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Congo prepares for elections as opposition urges boycott

Video by Arnaud ZAJTMAN , Marlène RABAUD , Rachel MARUSAK


Latest update : 2009-07-16

Congo-Brazzaville prepared for Sunday's presidential elections, despite opposition members - including the main challenger of President Denis Sassou Nguesso - calling for a boycott of the vote on Friday.

AFP - Six candidates in Congo's presidential elections, including President Denis Sassou Nguesso's main challenger, on Friday called for a boycott of the vote.
"Don't go voting, stay at home," Mathias Dzon, Nguesso's principal rival and a former finance minister, said at an opposition rally of about 2,000 people.
"What will happen Sunday is null and void," he added, with Nguesso opponents Guy Romain Kinfoussia, Clement Mierassa and independent runner Bonaventure Mizidy Bavoueza by his side.
Kinfoussia later told an AFP correspondent that two other independent challengers, no-shows Jean Francois Tchibinda Kouangou and Marion Matzimba Ehouango, supported the appeal.
"None of us (six) will vote. We'll stay at home," said Kinfoussia, adding that they would not abandon the electoral process to be able to challenge the outcome.
"For us, the election is not taking place on July 12 ... It will take place on the day the Congolese people are given a real choice," Dzon said, also speaking for his allies.
The six earlier Friday called for the election to be postponed, saying electoral lists included deceased and fictitious voters, minors and foreigners.
The African Union is to send about 30 observers to monitor Sunday's presidential elections.
The first round of the election will see 12 candidates seeking to unseat Nguesso, who led the Congo between 1979 and 1992, before returning to power in 1997 after a civil war.
In 2002, he was elected in a vote that fell short of democratic standards, international observers found.
The opposition contends that the Commission for the Organisation of the Elections (CONEL) is biased. The opposition cried foul in the last elections organised by the CONEL.
AU observers also denounced irregularities and fraud.
Last month, a delegation of members of the European Parliament visited Brazzaville, but Patrick Gaubert, vice chairman of the EU assembly's human rights subcommittee, said on June 21 that the EU would send no observers on Sunday.
The executive European Commission "told us that this election is not a priority", he added.

Date created : 2009-07-11