Congo. According to
COUNTRYAAH, Denis Sassou-Nguesso, the country's president in
1979–92 and since 1997, took steps during the year to remain
president after his current term expires. According to the
constitution, which was approved in a referendum in 2002,
the president is elected for seven years and can be
re-elected. In addition, there is a rule that the president
must not be over 70 years at the time of the election.
Consequently, Sassou-Nguesso, born in 1943, will be too old
to run for office in the next presidential election in 2016,
except that he has been in office for two terms since the
constitution became effective.
In July, the president invited a conference for national
dialogue, but this was boycotted by large parts of the
opposition, who feared that the conference was intended to
pave the way for Sassou-Nguesso's time in power to be
extended. The opposition organized itself into the Alliance
Republican Movement for Respect for a Constitutional Order
and Democratic Change (Frocad). The conference very rightly
led to a recommendation that went into an unlimited number
of terms and expired age limit for presidential candidates.
Already in March, thousands of women in Brazzaville
demonstrated against Sassou-Nguesso's plans for
constitutional changes, and these were followed by several
protests during the year. Despite the opposition, in
October, the president announced a referendum on the issue.
When the opposition called for new demonstrations, these
were banned by the regime, which also shut down SMS and
Internet traffic in the cities of Brazzaville and
Pointe-Noire. The people who defied the demonstration ban
were arrested by the security police, and in the ensuing
violence several people were killed.
The results of the referendum, held on October 25, showed
that 92% of voters supported the constitutional amendments.
The opposition claimed that voter turnout was significantly
lower than the official figure of 72%. Out of fear of new
deaths, the opposition canceled the planned protests. At the
end of December, President Sassou-Nguesso announced his
intention to move the presidential election from July to
sometime in the first quarter of 2016.