AFRICA/CONGO - First round of presidential elections opens under communications blackout imposed by the government

Monday, 21 March 2016 elections  

Brazzaville (Agenzia Fides) - Yesterday, Sunday, March 20, the first round of presidential elections, which took place in the Republic of Congo (Congo Brazzaville), opened under communications blackout imposed by the government for safety reasons.
Telephone connections, SMS and the Internet have been blocked for 48 hours, from Sunday 20 to Monday, March 21, to "prevent the opposition - say the authorities - to publish illegal results". Outgoing President, Denis Sassou Nguesso, in power for 32 years, has come back for a third term, challenging eight opposition candidates. In order to candidate himself in the presidential elections, Sassou Nguesso imposed a change of the Constitution, which provided for a maximum of two consecutive terms (see Fides 21/10/2015).
On the evening of March 20, police dispersed about 200 supporters of one of the opposition candidates, Guy Brice Parfait Kolelas, who wanted to assist the counting of votes at a polling station in the capital, Brazzaville.
The Bishops of the Association of Episcopal Conferences of Central Africa Region (ACERAC which includes Cameroon, Congo Brazzaville, Gabon, Central African Republic, Chad, Equatorial Guinea) have recently launched an appeal for "just and peaceful elections" in their respective Countries ( see Fides 09/03/2016). (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 21/03/2016)