On Sunday the citizens of Republic of the Congo voted on a referendum which would remove the age restriction disallowing candidates over 70 from being President, and a two-term limit on the Presidential office.
According to the BBC, early tallies show that more than 90% of the voters have supported the referendum. The Congolese government, under the leadership of President Denis-Sassou Nguesso, claims that more than 70% of the Congolese population voted in the referendum. If the constitutional referendum passes President Nguesso would be eligible for a third presidential term.
According to the Association Presse Francaise (AFP), the opposition has termed the early results as “fraudulent” and denied the government’s claims that 70% of the population voted calling those assertions “extremely scandalous.” Turnout was reportedly low in the country’s capital Brazzaville, but high in the north of the country where President Nguesso remains popular.
Throughout the referendum process violent clashes occurred between the police and the opposition groups. The violence was worst in Brazzaville where 13 people were injured by the police. SaharaReporters reported last Tuesday that President Nguesso cut all communications in the country, a move widely seen by the opposition as an effort to undermine protests against the referendum vote.
President Nguesso ruled Republic of the Congo from 1979-1992 as a dictator. Following a bloody civil war, he won an election in 1997 and has been President ever since. Originally the Congolese Constitution had a two-term limit and an age restriction for the Presidency. Under these restrictions, President Nguesso was ineligible to run for President in 2016 as he has served two terms and is over 70 years old.
The Congolese Presidential Elections are scheduled to take place in 2016. If President Nguesso runs in the election and wins he will have been President of the Republic of the Congo for nearly 40 years.