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Congo poll to open amid veto call

By on July 12, 2009

People in the Republic of Congo are preparing to go to the polls in an election which opposition leaders say will be neither free nor fair.

sassou President Denis Sassou-Nguesso has been in power for most of the past 30 years, and is hoping for another term. But his opponents have urged voters to stay away, saying the government has inflated the electoral roll figures. The BBC’s Thomas Fessy in the capital Brazzaville says many people have left the city fearing unrest.

Mr Sassou-Nguesso told a rally of his supporters in the capital: “Fear not and go and vote. There will not be any more war in Congo.”

But his main rival, Mathias Dzon, and four other candidates have urged voters to boycott the polls.

Government officials say more than two million people have been registered to vote but Roger Bouka Owoko, head of the Congolese Observatory for Human Rights (OCDH), said that figure was “grotesque”.

“Congo cannot have so many electors,” he said. “This monstrous electoral register is the drawback of the electoral process.”

The head of the European Commission delegation in Congo, Miguel Amado, said he also had concerns about the electoral roll being used and said many people had not received voting cards.


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