“Otchombe won!” Even before the verdict of the polls, supporters of President Denis Sassou Nguesso believe the outcome is certain.
During his last campaign rally on Friday in Brazzaville, the Congolese President, who has been in power for over 32 years, urged voters to deliver a “knock-out blow” to opposition candidates in Sunday’s election by giving him an outright majority that would extend his rule.
Nguesso has ran on an ambitious agenda focused on job creation and infrastructure development, telling a rally in the capital, Brazzaville, on Friday that his restoration of peace after a bloody civil war in 1997 has allowed the economy to grow.
Everywhere the people have expressed their satisfaction about the infrastructure we have built. On March 20, vote for your candidate and it will be a knock-out blow.
“Everywhere the people have expressed their satisfaction about the infrastructure we have built,” he said. “On March 20, vote for your candidate and it will be a knock-out blow.”
An outright majority on Sunday would avoid a run-off with opposition candidates.
But the opposition has raised concerns ahead of the polls and some of Nguesso’s opponents have set up their own electoral commission to monitor the official body, which they say answers to the president.
The European Union has also decided not to send observers, saying recent changes to the electoral law lacked transparency.
Presidential candidate Andre Okombi Salissa said on Friday the opposition has documented preparations for widespread vote rigging, including voters registered at multiple polling sites, individuals with multiple voter cards and the distribution of voter cards to non-citizens.
The government rejects the accusations and says its opponents are stirring up post-election chaos. The opposition in turn denies it is inciting violence but warns that people will not accept a tainted result.
“It is not possible for President Sassou to win these elections,” said retired General Jean-Marie Mokoko, who joined Salissa and Guy Brice Parfait Kolelas at the news conference. “Everywhere we have traveled there has been a total rejection.”
Eight opponents are running against Sassou Nguesso, including Mokoko, who once served as the president’s security adviser. Five of them have promised to support the president’s opponent in case there is a run-off.