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Congo's president wins in landslide, extending 32-year rule

By Andrew V. Pestano Follow @AVPLive9 Contact the Author   |   March 24, 2016 at 10:14 AM
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BRAZZAVILLE, Republic of the Congo, March 24 (UPI) -- Congo's President Denis Sassou Nguesso won a third term in office in a landslide after a controversial constitutional amendment granted him the ability to run.

Sassou Nguesso won with 60 percent of the vote, officials announced Thursday. His nearest challenger, Guy-Brice Parfait Kolelas, had 15 percent.

Sassou Nguesso , 72, has been in power since 1979, except for a five-year period after he lost the 1992 election. The Congolese constitution was changed in October after a referendum to remove term and age limits that would have prevented Sassou Nguesso from running again.

The Congolese opposition says the election was marred by "massive fraud." Before the election was held, Congolese Interior Minister Raymond Mboulou ordered communications operators to cut telephone, text and Internet communications in the country -- saying it was necessary to prevent opposition candidates from publishing their own results.

Sassou Nguesso's government is accused by critics of stifling democracy with widespread corruption and nepotism. After voting ended on Sunday in Brazzaville, the Republic of Congo's capital, police in riot gear used tear gas on opposition protesters who complained about alleged election irregularities.

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