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Congo: President Nguesso's frantic efforts to woo electorate ahead polls

Cedric Sehossolo Africanews journalist   -  
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Republic of the Congo

An hydro-electric dam, a few roads and a hospital complex. These are some the latest projects Congo's president Dénis Sassou NGUESSO has inaugurated a few weeks before the presidential elections.

Fors some in this central African country, this is a well thought out plan to end the current term and that urges supporters to give another term to President Nguesso.

But this is nothing to opponents and remains a far cry from real development after 36 years in power of President Nguesso.

"Today, in normal times, after each term in office, he must give an account, he must make an assessment, but unfortunately, there is no assessment. -- Crepin Ngoula, member of the opposition. DNERD told our journalist.

A sentiment shared also by Jean Felix Demba Tello a former minister.

"Nothing works, that is the reality. If the reading is only done by laying of bricks, it means that people are taken for fools. Life is what we live today, on what is acquired. The hospitals that exist, do they work? ".

A hospital complex of more than 50,000 m2 was inaugurated in the centre of a popular district in Pointe noire, the economic capital in February. The hospital, the givernment says was built to stem the problems linked to the distance from health centres, something residents have blamed for as the cause of several cases of death.

"Before, many people were dying, but now the hospital is close to us. We say thank you very much to Papa SASSOU". a woman supporter of the ruling PCT party says.

But building hospital infrastructure only solves part of the problem in a country that lacks health coverage.

Here, people are forced to resort to street medicines instead of pharmaceutical products considered too expensive.

"We often have to pay a lot of money for the hospital, we die because we don't have the money, because nobody takes care of you. We may not be a poor country, but we have been impoverished by our leaders"- a patient told Africanews Journalist Cédric Lyonnel SEHOSSOLO

Sehossolo reports that since 2015, Congo has been developing a universal health insurance project. However, like many other projects, the results are still being expected.

Congo's presidential election comes up on 21 March. Dennis Sassou Nguesso has ruled the central African nation for 36 years. At 77 years old, he is widely expected not to face a keen contest to keep his place against seven other presidential hopefuls. This in itself may not suggest a wide popularity amongst the electorate but rather that of resigned and dashed hopes for change.

The Congolese opposition claims elections have not been free and fair and main opponents of Nguesso in past elections end up been harrased and imprisoned.- the experience of former general Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko and former minister Andre Okombi Salissa who were Mr. Sassou Guesso's rivals in 2016.

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