BRAZZAVILLE, Republic of Congo — Election officials in Republic of Congo on Tuesday declared President Denis Sassou N’Guesso the winner of an election, further extending his presidency of more than 36 years in office. The election was marked by the death of his main opponent from COVID-19.
The results were announced by Interior Minister Raymond Zephirin Mboulou on national television two days after the vote in this Central African nation often overshadowed by its neighbor with a similar name, Congo.
Sassou N’Guesso received 88.5% of ballots cast, according to official results. The top opposition candidate whose death was announced the day after the election, Guy Brice Parfait Kolelas, won 7.8% of the vote. The remaining ballots were split among the five other contenders.
“Kolelas died after the vote in Paris so Article 70 cannot be evoked in these conditions,” said Henri Bouka, who is also president of the Supreme Court in Congo.
Sassou N’Guesso, a former army general, led Republic of Congo from 1979 to 1992, when he placed third in the country’s first democratic elections.
After a voluntary exile in France, Sassou N’Guesso came back to power in 1997 after his supporters prevailed in a four-month civil war, and he has now been re-elected four times.
Kolelas, a former government minister and one of the main contenders in Sunday’s poll, had hoped to topple the reign of 77-year-old President Denis Sassou Nguesso, who has led the country for decades.
Kolelas was a runner-up to Nguesso in the 2016 presidential election, where he amassed about 15% of the total ballot.