Congo-Brazzaville

Denis Sassou Nguesso sweeps to victory in Congo's presidential elections

Denis Sassou Nguesso first gained power in the Republic of Congo in 1979.
Denis Sassou Nguesso first gained power in the Republic of Congo in 1979. REUTERS - OLIVIA ACLAND

Denis Sassou Nguesso has been re-elected as president of the Republic of Congo.

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The 77-year-old gained more than 88 percent of the vote, official results showed on Tuesday.

His closest rival, Guy Brice Parfait Kolelas received less than 8 percent. Kolelas died hours after the polls closed while he was being evacuated to France to be treated for Covid-19.

Sassou, a former paratrooper, took power in 1979. He lost Congo's first multi-party elections in 1992 but returned to office in 1997 after a civil war.

He changed the constitution in 2015 so that he would not be barred from standing for re-election the following year.

Congo's economy has been in crisis since 2014 when oil prices collapsed. That led the country's external debt - much of it owed to private oil traders - to soar to more than 100 percent of gross domestic product.

The coronavirus pandemic and a drop in oil prices last year made matters worse. The economy contracted by more than 8 percent in 2020 and is expected to grow by less than 1 percent this year. 

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