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Congo's President Calls for Vote on Ending Third Term Limit

FILE - Republic of Congo President Denis Sassou Nguesso.

The government of the Republic of Congo has called a referendum October 25 on a proposed constitutional amendment to allow President Denis Sassou Nguesso to run for a third term.

The proposed amendment, announced Monday after a cabinet meeting, also would abolish an upper age limit of 70 for presidential candidates. President Sassou Nguesso is 72 and is barred by the current constitution from seeking another term.

Last month, the president announced he was planning the referendum, a move that brought thousands of people out to demonstrate in the capital, Brazzaville.

Sassou Nguesso is one of several African leaders who have sparked controversy by seeking constitutional changes to extend their time in office, including Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza, whose re-election in July sparked a wave of unrest.

In Burkina Faso, former president Blaise Compaore had been president of his country for 27 years before being ousted from power last year after he tried to change the constitution in order to seek another term in office.

Sassou Nguesso first seized power in a 1979 coup, then lost it in a 1992 election, and retook power in 1997 in a bloody civil war. He won re-election in 2002 and again in 2009. Both votes were boycotted by most of the opposition.