Congo. According to COUNTRYAAH, Brazzaville is the capital of Republic of the Congo which is located in Central Africa. 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.