Congo Holds Referendum On Presidential Term Limits

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Republic of Congo citizens are heading to the polls to cast their vote on a referendum that could see the country’s longtime president become eligible for a new term in office. Aljazeera reports:

Under current laws, 71-year-old President Denis Sassou N’Guesso is barred from seeking re-election when his second term expires next year. The referendum asks voters to consider scrapping a two-term limit and 70-years age limit for candidates. Al Jazeera’s Haru Mutasa, reporting from Brazzaville, said: “The key thing about this referendum is to see how many people actually come out to participate in it.”

She said in areas where the president had a lot of support, people were “coming one by one to cast their vote and they are voting yes. “In opposition strongholds though it is a bit different. It is slightly tense. There are areas where some people say they are not going to vote because they feel that it is an attempt by the president to perhaps hang on to power one day.”

She said in those areas the security was tight.  Henri Bouka, electoral commission president, encouraged people to get to the polls on Sunday, after what he said was a slow start. Politicians campaigning against the referendum had called for a campaign of “civil disobedience,” but by the end of the week called for calm. On Tuesday, authorities said four people were killed in clashes between opposition demonstrators and security forces in Brazzaville and the economic capital Pointe-Noire.

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