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General Urges 'Civil Disobedience' After Congo's Disputed Election


Congo incumbent President Denis Sassou N'Guesso casts his ballot, at a polling station, in Brazzaville, Congo, March 20, 2016.

Congo incumbent President Denis Sassou N'Guesso casts his ballot, at a polling station, in Brazzaville, Congo, March 20, 2016.

A Republic of Congo army general is calling for a campaign of "civil disobedience" to reject official results showing President Denis Sassou Nguesso has won re-election.

General Jean-Marie Mokoko spoke to VOA's French to Africa Service Thursday, after Congo's interior minister announced in Brazzaville that Sassou Nguesso won over 60 percent of the vote in Sunday's election, and thus no second-round ballot would be necessary.

In a telephone interview, Mokoko said the results are "falsified" and "do not reflect the reality of the polls."

"When a dictatorship is installed in a country, we [call on] people, basically, to engage in legal civil disobedience to block this attempt at fraud," he said.

Mokoko said the opposition coalition has no weapons and will not go to war, but indicated that neither will they appeal to the courts, which he called "subservient" to the president.

There was no immediate reaction from the government.

The general was a candidate in the election -- finishing third, according to official results. In an audio statement posted on YouTube, he said polling station results collected by the opposition show it was "impossible" for Sassou Nguesso to have won re-election outright in a first round of voting.

The opposition has yet to release its own vote tallies.

Supporters of Guy Brice Parfait Kolelas, the Interim President of the Congolese Movement for Democracy and Integral Development demonstrate at the candidate head quarter in Brazzaville on March 23, 2016.

Supporters of Guy Brice Parfait Kolelas, the Interim President of the Congolese Movement for Democracy and Integral Development demonstrate at the candidate head quarter in Brazzaville on March 23, 2016.

Interior Minister Raymond Zephyrin Mboulou announced the official results on national television at 3:30 a.m. Until Thursday, all telephone and Internet service in Congo had been shut down since the election on Sunday. Mboulou said the measure was needed for security reasons.

The results, which must be validated by Congo's constitutional court, showed Mokoko winning 14 percent of the vote, just behind the runner-up candidate, Guy-Brice Parfair Kolelas, who had 15 percent.

The election followed a voter referendum last October that removed age and term limits that would have prevented the 72-year-old Sassou Nguesso from seeking re-election. Critics of the poll accused the president of a "constitutional coup."

Sassou Nguesso initially served as Congo's president from 1979 to 1992. After losing an election, he returned to power during a 1997 civil war and won re-election in disputed polls in 2002 and 2009.

VOA's Idriss Fall contributed to this report.

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