Voters in the Republic of Congo go to the polls on Sunday July 16 in legislative elections.
Over two million voters are expected to cast their ballots in the first round of polling to elect parliamentarians and local councils.
The ruling Congolese Labour Party (PCT) is running 128 candidates for the 151 seats available, the main parliamentary oppositIon group the Pan-African Union for Social Democracy (UPADS) has put forward 43 candidates, while the group led by Guy-Brice Parfait Kolelas who came second in last year elections has 31 candidates.
In total over 700 candidates are vying for the seats in the national assembly a majority of whom are considered close to the presidential majority.
The elections are being held against the backdrop of violence in the Pool region, neighbouring the capital Brazzaville, in which dozens have been killed.
An opposition coalition of three parties has said it will only take part under certain circumstances, including “the end of the crisis in Pool and the release of all political prisoners.”
Two leaders of the coalition, Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko and Andre Okombi Salissa were arrested and jailed in June 2016 and in January this year.
The African Union has deployed an observer team headed by former Mali Prime Minister, Django Sissoko.
Reports indicate that the second round of legislative polls will probably be held on July 30.
The elections are the first since presidential polls held in March last year in which current president Denis Sassou Nguesso won over 60% of votes to extended his 32-year rule.