Citizens in Congo-Brazzaville headed to the polls on Sunday to vote in a presidential election that looks likely to hand Denis Sassou-Nguesso, who’s led for decades, another term in office.
At more than 35 years in office total, the 70-year-old Sassou-Nguesso is one of Africa’s longest-serving presidents, which has earned him the nickname “emperor.” His six challengers are seen as having little chance of winning, despite an economic crisis due to low oil prices.
Sassou-Nguesso’s strongest challenger, Guy Brice Parfait Kolelas, announced shortly before the vote that he had tested positive for the coronavirus. He is set to be taken to France on Sunday for treatment.
Kolelas finished second in the last presidential election in 2016.
Results of the election are expected in two days.
Interior Minister Raymond Mboulou said on state television that things were calm at the polls. Access to the internet and social networks was blocked on Sunday, but mobile networks and phone lines were still working, unlike in the previous election five years ago.
Congo-Brazzaville, with a population of about 5 million, is one of Africa’s largest oil producers.
However, the country is very poor, with the number of citizens in extreme poverty increasing since 2016, according to the World Bank.