The European Union has decided not to send observers to the Republic of Congo to monitor a controversial presidential election set for March 20.
AP reports the EU decision is coming ahead of its dismissal of recent electoral reforms in the country, including the introduction of an independent electoral commission.
The EU said the reforms are insufficient to guarantee a transparent election.
“The current context does not allow the EU to envisage setting up an electoral observers’ mission for the March 20 vote,” spokesman for the EU, Federica Mogherini said in the statement.
He said the Union considers that “the reforms to the electoral law that were introduced in January 23 appear limited” and do not fulfil the recommendations made by an EU mission to the country.
The controversial new charter removed a 70-year age limit and a ban on presidents serving more than two terms.
The charter was approved through a public vote, but opposition has dismissed it.
The 72-year-old Republic of Congo president Dennis Nguesso, has been leading the country from 1979 to 1992 and has since served two consecutive seven-year mandates. He said he wanted to bring the election forward to usher in a “new dynamic” after the referendum.
The Congolese government has responded through the Information Minister Thierry Moungalla saying: “I think the EU is free not to send observers. But this decision will prohibit them from judging the process when it comes to an end.”
“Whoever does not observe cannot judge,” he added.