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Nguesso wins re-election in disputed presidential poll

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-07-15

Denis Sassou Nguesso, who has ruled Congo with an iron grip for nearly a quarter of a century, has secured another seven-year term after weekend elections handed him 78.61 percent of the vote, officials say.

Denis Sassou Nguesso, who has ruled Congo with an iron grip for nearly a quarter of a century, has secured another seven-year term after weekend elections handed him 78.61 percent of the vote, officials say.
   
The results had initially been due to be released on Tuesday but authorities delayed the results after opposition and rights groups objected to the conduct of the vote.

The opposition has widely criticised the poll, which was boycotted by a number of parties and has been further marred by accusations of fraud from Sassou Nguesso's 12 challengers.
   
The 66-year-old former military ruler is one of Africa's long-serving leaders having first come to power three decades ago.
   
His first stint as president of the former French colony and Africa's fifth-biggest oil producer stretched from 1979 to 1992 and he returned to the presidency in 1997 after a civil war.
   
Sassou Nguesso was re-elected in 2002 in a vote that international observers said fell short of democratic standards.
   
Small teams of monitors from the African Union and the 10-nation Economic Community of Central African States gave this year's poll a clean bill of health.
   
"The electoral campaign took place in a calm and serene atmosphere," they said in a joint statement.
   
However the Congolese Observatory of Human Rights, a non-governmental organisation, said the poll was badly marred by "fraud and irregularities."
   
The local observer team concluded that the election was "neither fair, nor transparent, nor balanced" and had been marked by a "very weak" turnout.
   
Some of Sassou Nguesso's opponents have said only about 10 percent of voters cast their ballots although Mboulou insisted that in some constituencies, "100 percent of people voted."
   
Figures released from the capital Brazzaville, the economic capital and oil city of Pointe Noire, and other regions in the interior of the country showed turnout rates of between 40 and 92 percent.
   
Sassou Nguesso's main rival is former finance minister Mathias Dzon, 62, who was among those to denounce the election as fraudulent.
   
If no one candidate obtains 50 percent of the first round votes, a run-off will be held.
   
Some 70 percent of people in Congo live below the poverty line despite an abundance of oil and timber, the country's main exports.
 

Date created : 2009-07-15

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