The opposition in Congo Republic has conditionally agreed to run against current President Denis Sassou Nguesso in the March elections.
The opposition alliance which is made up of the Initiative for Democracy in Congo and The Republic Front for the Respect of the Constitutional Order and Democratic Transition (FROCAD) is seeking to take over the reigns of power from President Nguesso who has ruled the oil rich country for 31 of the last 36 years.
However, it will be an uphill task for the opposition which had boycotted an October referendum on whether the president could legally seek a third consecutive term, a vote that Sassou Nguesso won by a landslide.
We are working on the best strategy on behalf of our political family in order to win the presidential election
“We are working on the best strategy on behalf of our political family in order to win the presidential election,” said Charles Zacharie Bowao, a former defence minister now in the opposition.
President Nguesso is widely expected to run in March and win comfortably, whether or not the opposition participates.
According to Freedom House a US based watchdog, Congo Republic is deemed “not free”.
During the referendum in October, anti government protesters were attacked by the police leading to the death of four people while opposition leaders were placed under house arrest.
The government said detentions were necessary to restore order and accused the opposition of planning an insurrection.
Analysts said the risk of street violence in Congo’s polls would be greater if the opposition participates, since they are more likely to denounce irregularities and provoke public anger.
Congo Republic is not the only country in Africa where the president has decided to extend his mandate. In Burundi, President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a third term has sparked violence, killing more than 400 people.