Congo strongman Denis Sassou Nguesso was today declared the country’s winner of the presidential elections, extending his 32 years in power in a vote the opposition says was marked by “massive fraud”.
Interior Minister Raymond Zephyrin Mboulou announced the results at 3:30am (0230 GMT) on national television, saying Sassou Nguesso had secured 60 percent of the vote in the tense weekend poll held under an ongoing communications blackout.
The official count gave runner-up Guy-Brice Parfait Kolelas 15 percent of the vote, while General Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko came in third with 14 percent.
Sassou Nguesso hailed the victory at his campaign headquarters, saying the Congolese people had “taken their destiny into their own hands” and adding that the campaign had produced a “very open” democratic debate in the former French colony.
But both of his main rivals had already rejected results, with Kolelas’ spokesman Vivien Manangou saying there had been “massive fraud”.
Mokoko, who until February was Sassou Nguesso’s security advisor, added: “I knew beforehand that the dice were loaded, but we had agreed to play the game.
He called for a recount, saying: “How do you want us to accept such a result?”
With telephones and the Internet cut off, neither candidate was immediately reachable after the official results were announced.