The U.S. said it was “profoundly disappointed” by what it called the flawed electoral process in the Republic of Congo that extended President Denis Sassou Nguesso’s 18-year rule.
“Widespread irregularities and the arrests of opposition supporters following the elections marred an otherwise peaceful vote,” the State Department said in a statement. It urged Congo’s government “to correct these numerous deficiencies before scheduling legislative elections.”
Nguesso easily won March’s elections in the Central African oil-producing nation. His candidacy was contested by the opposition, which led protests against a referendum last year that allowed him to change the constitution and run again.
The U.S. also expressed concern for the welfare of thousands of Congolese who fled their homes after gunfire and explosions in the capital earlier this week. Congo’s government said at least 17 people died as gunmen opened fire on police stations and checkpoints in Brazzaville. It accused former militia member of orchestrating the attack.
“A climate of fear works against the national unity and peace that the Congolese people deserve,” the State Department said.