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More than 90 percent vote, paving the way for Congo president's third term

AFP | Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso on October 25, 2015

More than 90 percent of voters in the Republic of Congo approved a referendum on changing the constitution to allow President Denis Sassou Nguesso to run for a third consecutive term in elections next year, official results showed on Tuesday.

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A total of 92.96 percent of voters approved the constitutional amendment, which has now been adopted, Interior Minister Raymond Mboulou said.

Turnout in the referendum held on Sunday was 72 percent, according to figures read by the electoral commission on radio.

The opposition, which boycotted the poll, has rejected the result as a “fraud”, claiming that voter turnout was much lower.

"From what we could see on the day of the vote, the announcement that turnout was more than 72 percent is extremely scandalous," Clément Miérassa, a leading member of the opposition, told AFP on Tuesday.

"It shows bad faith and dishonesty. The results were fixed," Miérassa added.

The referendum proposed two changes to the constitution, which currently disqualifies Sassou Nguesso from running for re-election in 2016 because it stipulates a maximum age of 70 for presidential candidates and limits the number of mandates to two.

At 71-years-old, Sassou Nguesso is over the age limit and has already served two consecutive seven-year terms.

Sassou Nguesso ruled the central African country from 1979 until 1992, when he was defeated in a presidential election. His rule resumed five years later after his forces defeated the then-president in a brief civil war.

He is the latest African president to try to prolong his grip on power by changing the constitution. Several such initiatives have provoked violence, and four died in Congo last week when security forces opened fire on protesters.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

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