[Ismail Akwei with AFP] Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso has been declared winner in the first round of the country’s election with 60.39% of votes, according to official results announced early Thursday morning.
The victory of Mr. Sassou Nguesso, which is being challenged by two main candidates, was officially announced by the Interior Minister Raymond Mboulou Zéphyrin shortly after 3:30 am (02h30 GMT), when the country was deprived of telecommunications connection for over four days.
According to the official count, Guy-Brice Parfait Kolélas ranked second with a little over 15.05% of the vote, and General Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko third with about 13.89%.
Speaking to the press at his campaign headquarters shortly after the announcement of results, Sassou said that the Congolese people had “taken their destiny in their hands” and held that the election campaign had resulted in a “very open democratic debate.”
On Wednesday, Mr Kolélas and General Mokoko had contested the partial results published yesterday by the Independent National Electoral Commission (CNEI), which gave Mr Sassou Nguesso in the lead with 67% of votes.
“I knew beforehand that the dice were loaded, but we had agreed to play the game,” said General Mokoko, who was until February adviser to President Sassou Nguesso on peace and security, lamenting that the results published by the CNEI was “prefabricated”.
Vivien Manangou, spokesman for Mr. Kolélas, said for his part the re-election of Mr. Sassou Nguesso was part of a “massive fraud” and “magic”.
The declaration means that the incumbent President Denis Sassou Nguesso, who has been in power for 32 years, is going to head the country for five more years.