Category Archives: Republic of Congo

Series of African elections

A few recent African elections, mostly under the radar in the Western media.

Firstly, in the Republic of Congo. Unsurprisingly, incumbent President Denis Sassou Nguesso of the Congolese Labour Party (PCT), the left-wing dictatorship party, won another 7 year term. Sassou Nguesso first came to power in 1979 as a member of the ruling military/Marxist junta led by the PCT, but he was defeated in free elections in 1992 by an opposition candidate (although he received Sassou Nguesso’s endorsement in the runoff, from which Sassou Nguesso was absent) – Pascal Lissouba. The PCT soon ditched Lissouba after he didn’t give them enough cabinet positions and, in typical African style, went into civil war which culiminated in Sassou Nguesso’s return in 1997. He was re-elected with 89.4% in 2002.

He faced twelve candidates this year, but the divided opposition’s official candidate, Mathias Dzon called to boycott the election. Sassou Nguesso won 78.6%, and his closest ‘rival’ was an opposition dissident, Joseph Kignoumbi Kia Mboungou, who won 7.5%.

In Mauritania, an election was held after a military coup in 2008 overthrew the beginnings of a democratic regime. The coup leader, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, stood for election and he has won around 53% by the first round.

Guinea-Bissau is probably the only of these elections which isn’t a fake election. These elections, with the first round last month (June 28) and the runoff on July 26, are special elections being held after President João Bernardo Vieira was assassinated on March 2.

The runoff opposes Malam Bacai Sanhá of the (governing) socialist/Marxist African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) and the leader of the opposition centre-left Social Renewal Party (PRS), Kumba Ialá. Henrique Rosa, an Independent and former interim President, was eliminated in the first round but his votes will prove decisive. In the first round, Sanhá received 39.59%, Ialá 29.42%  and Rosa received 24.19%.

João Vieira led a military coup in 1980 which overthrew the PAIGC-Cabral family business, the ruling party since independence. Vieira ruled until 1999, when civil war erupted. Kumba Ialá was elected President in 2000 and, despite good intentions, was fairly incompetent in office. The military staged a coup in 2003 and elections were held in 2005. JoãoVieira was elected as an Independent in 2005. He received 28.87% in the first round – behind Sanhá (35.45%) but won due to the Ialá voters (25% in the first round) backing him in the runoff, which he won with 52.35%.