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Analyst Says Marred Congo Election to Solidify Presidential Rule


In the Republic of Congo, results from Sunday's election for 84 legislative seats are expected by the end of the week. Election monitors and oppositions parties complained the second round was not much better than the first, which was marred by accusations of fraud. Phuong Tran reports from VOA's West African bureau in Dakar that supporters of President Denis Sassou-Nguesso won most of the seats in that round.

Forty small parties boycotted Sunday's election. Even though main opposition groups took part, analyst Paul Simon Handy says the outcome is evident.

"The election was far away from what can identify as free and fair," he said. "What the government is basically looking for is to ensure a majority and to push its lawmaking process. It is a slow and certain return to authoritarian rule."

Election monitors complained of incomplete voting lists, as well as missing poll workers and identity cards. But officials from the National Electoral Agency said Sunday's election proceeded well.

Even without electoral problems, Handy, of the South African Institute for Security Studies, says the long-alienated opposition is too fragmented to compete against the president.

"This opposition suffers from a weak organizational structure," he said. "The opposition is very divided, not really structured [and] with leaders who do not think about anything, just coming to power."

Earlier this year, President Sassou-Nguesso named Pastor Ntumi, a representative of the major opposition group, the Ninjas, to head the country's peace and reconciliation efforts.

Handy says to reach lasting peace, President Sassou-Nguesso needs to hold political dialogue with all of the armed military groups and exiled leaders. The analyst also says a new election overseen by international observers must be organized.

The Republic of Congo is still recovering from civil wars that killed thousands and displaced about a quarter of the population. A peace accord signed earlier this year formally ended the revolt. But many fighters have not joined the national army, which was a part of the peace deal.

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