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Congo’s Opposition Rejects Sunday’s Election Results

Opposition parties in Congo Brazzaville are disputing Sunday's presidential vote won by long time President Denis Sassou-Nguesso. They condemned the election as flawed and questioned its legitimacy.

Days before Sunday's vote, six members of incumbent President Sassou-Nguesso's 12 challengers called for a boycott, claiming irregularities. But the government as well as African Union observers described the election as free and fair.

The Electoral Commission said President Sassou-Nguesso won 78.6 percent of the total votes.

"The whole election process has been contentious even before they cast the first ballot. The opposition complained bitterly that the results were fore-ordained. And so, I'm not surprised that they rejected the outcome," said Professor Okey Onyejekwe, director of governance at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

He said the opposition's message lacks coherence.

"The problem that the opposition has is that they are splintered. And consequently they do not have a common agenda which will make it more likely that they will succeed. I'm not quite sure if you ask me if they will succeed," he said.

Onyejekwe said Congo's electoral body failed to address the opposition concerns ahead of Sunday's vote.

"You will recall that a few weeks ago, the opposition in general leveled accusations against the electoral process. One of which was that the voter registry was over-inflated. Secondly, that the level playing field was not there for other contenders and that it (election result) was fore-ordained," Onyejekwe said.

He said there are indications the election was not credible.

"In a number of ways the outcome (of the election) was predictable. And it also reflect the overbearing power and influence of the incumbent," he said.

Onyejekwe expressed frustration with the African Union's verdict that the election was free and fair.

"I have a problem with the fact that they (African Union) did not intervene or intercede much earlier to look at some of the structural complaints that were made by the opposition," Onyejekwe said.

In his speech to the Ghanaian Parliament, President Barack Obama frowned on African leaders who he said cling to power despite constitutional requirements to step down.

Onyejekwe said the results showed Congo officials did not heed president Obama's advice.

"In President Obama's speech in Accra (Ghana's capital) he talked about 'the big man syndrome' and what is prevailing in the continent. The United Nations Commission for Africa just released a 2009 Africa governance report. And one of its major findings is this big man syndrome in which leaders are finding so many other ways to perpetuate themselves in office," Onyejekwe said.

He said election disputes across Africa could continue to degenerate into conflicts if they are not resolved.

"Until we address this problem, you will never have people accepting the outcome of elections," Onyejekwe said.

Meanwhile, turnout was reportedly low in Sunday's vote due to an opposition boycott.