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Polls open in Congo's presidential election

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Republic of the Congo

Polls opened on Sunday in the Republic of Congo as voters cast their ballots in a presidential election boycotted by the main opposition- The largest opposition group, the Pan-African Union for Social Democracy or UPADS, is boycotting the poll.

Voting began at a polling station in the capital Brazzaville shortly after 7 am local time, according to witnesses. 

Internet has however been shutdown. 

The internet shutdown was confirmed by NetBlocks metrics which says real-time metrics show a near-total loss of connectivity from midnight local time. 

The situation is reminiscent of election day internet shutdowns imposed by authorities during the March 2016 presidential elections.

Incumbent President Denis Sassou Nguesso who won then and has been in power for some 36 years is billed to win at this polls, which have been panned for their lack of transparency.

UN and EU observers were not invited to monitor Sunday's election, and the interior ministry refused to allow the Catholic Church's 1,100 observers to take part. The Catholic Church episcopal conference a powerful religious body in the central African state earlier in the year expressed "serious reservations" about the ballot's transparency.

The 77-year-old incumbent Dennis Sassou Nguesso is widely expected to win the election against six contenders, led by economist and 2016 presidential runner-up Guy-Brice Parfait Kolelas.

Kolelas on Saturday revealed Saturday that he is gravely ill after contracting Covid. He would be transferred to France for treatment according to his spokesman. It is not immediately clear how this impacts the election.

About 2 million voters are eligible to vote in today's polls.

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