Results have shown that more than 92% of voters in the country’s controversial referendum have approved constitutional changes to allow President Denis Sassou Nguesso to run for a third term in office.
According to figures read out by the electoral commission on radio on Tuesday, turnout in the referendum, which was held on Sunday, was 72 percent. The electoral commission further disclosed that more than 1.2 million people voted in favor of the change, while nearly 102,000 rejected it.
The opposition had boycotted the poll, with a senior opposition leader stating on Monday that the poll should be annulled due to low voter turnout. Clement Mierassa has disclosed that “from what we could see on the day of the vote, the announcement that turnout was more than 72% is extremely scandalous.”
President Sassou Nguesso, 71, is one of Africa’s longest serving rulers. He first came to power in 1979, ruling until 1992 when he lost the elections. He returned as president in 1997, after a brief civil war, and has since won two elections. He is now coming to the end of his second seven-year term. Under the current constitution, the president has been unable to seek re-election because he is over the age of 70 and has already served two terms. The presidential election is due to take place in 2016. In September, tens of thousands of people took part in a peaceful demonstration against the referendum. Last week, four people were killed and dozens left inured when security forces dispersed angry protesters in the capital, Brazzaville, as well as in the economic hub of Pointe-Noire.
Africa’s Longest-Serving Leaders:
- 36 Years – Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo (Equatorial Guinea) took power in a coup in August 1979.
- 36 Years – Jose Eduardo dos Santos (Angola) took over after the death of the country’s first president in September 1979.
- 35 Years – Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe) won the country’s independence elections in April 1980.
- 32 Years – Paul Biya (Cameroon) took over after the resignation of the country’s first president in November 1982.
- 31 Years – Denis Sassou Nguesso (Republic of Congo) was installed by the military in October 1979. He was out of power from August 1992 until October 1997.
- 29 Years – Yoweri Museveni (Uganda) became president after his rebel group took power in January 1986.