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Tens of thousands rally in Congo to support president’s bid for longer stay in power

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso (Photo by AFP)

Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets of the Congolese capital in support of President Denis Sassou Nguesso’s bid to extend his rule.

The supporters of President Nguesso took to the streets of the capital, Brazzaville, in large numbers on Saturday to back his bid to change the constitution in order to stay in power longer.

The rally was held prior to an October 25 referendum, which is to determine whether Nguesso, who has already been in power for thirty years, can seek another presidential term.

The Congolese constitution bars the 72-year-old leader from running again due to an age limit of 70 as well as a ceiling of two terms; but the government said Monday that the referendum would consider abolishing both the two-term limit and the age cap.

If the referendum is approved, Ngeusso would be eligible to contest in the election next year.

In the rally, some Nguesso’s supporters were wearing T-shirts reading “Yes to changing the constitution,” “Let’s go vote” and banners that read “Yes to the Referendum” as well as “Yes to a New Republic” floated above the crowd.

Nguesso became the president of the Republic of the Congo in 1979 and continued until 1992 in the wake of a coup d’état and in a context of civil war. He then served as opposition leader and returned to power following a brief civil war in 1997 after his rebel forces deposed then-President Pascal Lissouba.

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