December 31, 2015 5:03 AM
The Republic of Congo has announced it will hold its presidential election in March, following the recent approval of a new constitution that will allow President Denis Sassou Nguesso to run for another term.
The election was expected to be scheduled for July 2016, but Congo’s Minister of Communications announced the election plan on Wednesday. He said a new national electoral committee has been created and a draft electoral law adopted.
The election date has been set for March 20, 2016.
President Sassou Nguesso has not said yet whether he will run. But the October referendum, approved by more than 92 percent of voters according to official results, abolishes a two-term limit and an age limit of 70 for presidential candidates. Those new conditions make the president eligible to run again if he wants.
The opposition boycotted the referendum and said the turnout was actually much lower, down in the single digits. Opposition leader Pascal Tsaty Mabiala called for the referendum to be thrown out.
The 71-year-old Nguesso won disputed elections in 2002 and 2009, and has ruled Congo in different capacities for most of the past 36 years.