Congo Republic’s Opposition Rejects Referendum Outcome

A Congo Republic opposition group rejected the outcome of a referendum that will allow the oil-producing country to change its constitution to extend President Denis Sassou Nguesso’s 18-year rule.

“The institution responsible for organizing the poll is pro-government,” Andre Galibaki, one of the leaders of the Republican Front to Respect Constitutional Order and Democratic Change, or Frocad, said by phone from Brazzaville, the capital, on Tuesday.

Citizens voted 92.26 percent in favor of altering the constitution in a referendum held on Oct. 25, Interior Minister Raymond Zephirin Mboulou announced on national television. The results haven’t been tampered with, Pierre Ngolo, secretary-general of the ruling party, told reporters during a press briefing.

The outcome of the referendum is “a joke,” FROCAD said in a statement, as it demanded the immediate release of two politicians who had opposed the vote. Opponents of Congo’s government plan to continue a civil disobedience campaign against changes to the constitution, Agence France-Presse reported, citing Guy-Romain Kinfoussia, a spokesman for Frocad.

Sassou Nguesso led the Central African nation from 1979 to 1992 and then returned to power at the end of a civil war in

1997. He was elected in 2002 and 2009 in votes whose results the opposition disputed. The term limits were set when the new constitution was introduced in 2002. An election is scheduled for next year.

Opposition parties had called for a boycott of the referendum and protests by their supporters in the city last week led to clashes with police that left at least 13 people injured.

“The conditions in which the referendum was prepared and organized do not make it possible to assess the result,” French President Francois Hollande said in a statement on Tuesday.

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