Police in Congo fired teargas at opposition supporters and arrested around 10 of them Friday ahead of a planned news conference by opposition candidates who say last weekend’s presidential election was won fraudulently by the incumbent.
President Denis Sassou Nguesso, who has ruled the Central African oil producer for 32 of the last 37 years, won re-election in Sunday’s poll with 60 percent of the vote, according to official results announced on Thursday.
Early Friday, around 100 police officers were positioned outside of the headquarters of the opposition UPADS party in the capital Brazzaville’s Diata neighborhood, where a coalition of five candidates was expected to announce their own poll results.
The United States remains concerned about the transparency and credibility of the electoral process, including reports of irregularities, and the prolonged communications blackout.
Reuters reports that police fired at least two teargas canisters at the crowd that had gathered there and forced about 10 opposition supporters into vehicles.
CCTV Africa (@cctvnewsafrica) March 25, 2016
An opposition representative later confirmed that the scheduled news conference had been cancelled.
On Wednesday, the opposition coalition denounced alleged fraud during the polls. It said that its own results showed Sassou Nguesso headed for defeat and promised to make public its own vote tallies.
Retired General Jean-Marie Mokoko, a former army chief turned opposition figure who finished third in the election, called for a campaign of civil disobedience on Thursday, potentially setting the stage for protests.
The U.S. State Department, in a statement late Thursday,advised all parties to remain calm and asked that any challenges to the results be made in compliance with Congolese law.
“The United States remains concerned about the transparency and credibility of the electoral process, including reports of irregularities, and the prolonged communications blackout,” it said.
Congo Brazzaville, with a president who is always afraid of his people :the army is out 2 repress any manifestation pic.twitter.com/7mONgMYfpK— kyrkwa (@kyrkwa) March 25, 2016
The government cut telephone and Internet communications ahead of the vote, a measure it said aimed to prevent unofficial election results circulating and causing unrest. Services were only restored Thursday.