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Congo Election: Low voter turn out, internet shutdown, mark polls

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Republic of the Congo

A joyous applause for Congolese president Dennis Sassou Nguesso as he arrives his polling unit in Brazzaville. 

On Sunday morning, the Congolese leader cast his vote in the couintry's presidential election. 

The 77 year old who has stayed in power for 36 years is running for a fourth term in office.

Shortly after voting, he says to the press, **"If this goes through to the end, we could say that our democracy, which is in its early stages, could be said to be in good health." **

There are six other presidential candidates in Sunday's election.

Guy Brice Parfait Kolelas, notably Mr Nguesso's main challenger is however hospitalised. His team says Kolelas may be flown to France to treat Covid. On Friday, from his hospital bed, Kolelas urged supporters to vote for change. "I ask you to please stand up and go and vote for change".

Another top candidate is Mathias Dzon, a former finance minister. 

Dzon is the Presidential candidateof the Alliance for the Republic and Democracy (ARD) 

"My impressions? It's that in this voting station there are not many people who come. I don't know why, it must be due to the conditions under which the elections were organised. I live in the area and I noticed that in the whole area people did not have a voter's card. This morning they tried to drop them off at my house, simply because I called the president of the independent electoral commission."

Africanews journalist Cedric Sehossolo reports that there is low voter turn out and a huge contrast between the turn out during the electoral campaigns. 

"Indeed, we are far from the queues observed on March 17 during the vote of the police officers, Voters arrive today timidly, some have difficulty finding their name on the electoral lists or register. Election officers make sure that no one walks out without having voted but then polls opened late- 9am instead of 7am. And we also noticed a timid presence of observers and candidates' delegates".

Sehosollo reports that Congo was cut off from the rest of the world due to an internet shutdown, something reminiscent of the 2016 elections. But voting he adds has gone on largely peaceful in most parts of the country.

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