Congo Republic's Leader Says Elections Will Be Held Early 2016

Congo Republic’s presidential elections will be held in the first quarter of 2016 instead of July as had been originally scheduled, the leader of the oil-producing nation said in a radio and television message to the national assembly.

“The Council of Ministers will rapidly convene the electoral body earlier than expected so that the presidential election fits in the first quarter of 2016,” Sassou Nguesso said Tuesday from the capital, Brazzaville, without giving a date for the vote.

Sassou Nguesso enacted a new constitution last month after an Oct. 25 referendum allowing him to extend his 18-year rule. The opposition group Republican Front to Respect Constitutional Order and Democratic Change dismissed the outcome of the plebiscite as “a joke”.

The president said he had asked the interior minister to develop a draft electoral law setting out new provisions on the preparation, organization and conduct of elections in the central African nation.

Sassou Nguesso led Congo Republic 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.

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