Supporters of the Congolese Labor Party cheer during a political rally in Brazzaville. (file photo)
Congo-Brazzaville President Denis Sassou Nguesso’s party has taken the majority of seats in the first round of largely-shunned legislative elections in the Central African country.
Results released by the Interior Ministry late on Thursday showed the Congolese Labor Party (PCT) won 57 of the 69 seats decided in the first round, with another 10 seats going to the PCT’s allies, Reuters reported on Friday.
An August runoff election will determine the winners of the remaining constituencies of the 139-seat parliament.
The PCT and its allies held an overwhelming majority in the outgoing parliament, where the opposition had just 12 MPs.
Interior Minister Zephirin Mboulou acknowledged that voter turnout had been weak but refused to provide any official figures. The Congolese Observatory for Human Rights (OCDH) estimated that only 15 percent of approximately two million eligible voters cast their ballots.
Before the election, opposition parties complained about the PCT’s privileged access to state media in a country where previous general elections were reported to have been rigged.
Sassou Nguesso has been in power since a 1997 coup and also served as president from 1979 to 1992. He is constitutionally barred from seeking a new consecutive term in 2016.