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Communications cut ahead of Congo opposition rally

© Laudes Martial Mbom, AFP | A man holds a placard with a play on words referring to the Congolese president and reading "Sassou enough" during an opposition demonstration in Brazzaville on September 27, 2015.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2015-10-20

Communications were cut in Congo's capital Brazzaville on Tuesday, just hours ahead of an opposition rally to protest against a constitutional reform critics say is a ploy to extend longtime President Denis Sassou Nguesso’s stay in power.

Mobile Internet services, text messaging and the signal for FRANCE 24's sister radio RFI were all cut, an AFP correspondent said.

An unusual number of police and members of the gendarmerie were also out on the streets in opposition areas in southern districts of Brazzaville while many shops remained closed, the correspondent said.

The government had earlier banned all public meetings ahead of Sunday's referendum on a constitutional reform that will determine whether veteran leader Sassou Nguesso can seek another presidential term.

"In order to allow the electoral campaign to continue without injury or provocation, the government has decided to forbid the use of certain meeting spaces," Raymond Zephyrin Mboulou, communication minister, said in a statement.

The constitution currently bars the 72-year-old president from running again as there is an age limit of 70 as well as a maximum of two terms.

Sassou Nguesso has ruled oil-producing Congo Brazzaville, also known as the Republic of Congo, for 32 years in two separate spells in office.

Tens of thousands of his supporters staged a rally on Saturday to back the constitutional changes.

Growing tension between the two camps has stoked fears of an outbreak of violence in the country, which was wracked by civil war in the 1990s.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AFP)

 

Date created : 2015-10-20

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