Congo’s president to face seven challengers in March vote

BRAZZAVILLE (AFP) – Congo President Denis Sassou Nguesso will face seven challengers in a March 21 election, the Interior Ministry said on Tuesday, though the main opposition has said it plans to boycott the vote.

Sassou Nguesso, who has ruled for some 36 years in total, will notably face Mathias Dzon, a 73-year-old former Finance Minister, and Guy-Brice Parfait Kolelas, 60.

Kolelas, whose father Bernard was briefly Congo’s Prime Minister in 1997, during the country’s civil war, was runner-up to Sassou Nguesso in 2016.

The candidates’ names will now be sent to the constitutional court for validation, said Interior Ministry Chief of Staff Seraphin Ondele.

While Kolelas is backed by his own political party, the Union of Humanist Democrats (UDH), the country’s largest opposition group, the Pan-African Union for Social Democracy (UPADS), has already said it will boycott the polls.