BRAZZAVILLE (AFP) – The Congolese Labour Party (PCT) of President Denis Sassou Nguesso reaffirmed its dominance in the first round of legislative elections in results announced Friday by the interior ministry.
But the aftermath of Sunday’s election has already been marked by an accusation of fraud and some violence.
The PCT took 57 out of the 69 seats that were won outright in last Sunday’s first-round vote, according to the ministry.
Another 10 were won by the parties allied to the PCT; just one was taken by the opposition, while another went to an independent candidate.
The other places in the 135-seat parliament will be decided in a second round scheduled for August 5.
Interior Minister Raymond Zephirin Mboulou did not release figures for the turnout at the vote, but the Congolese Human Rights Observatory put it at only 15 percent.
Observers from the Economic Community of Central African States and from the African Union also reported that turnout had been low, though they did not put a figure on it.
The PCT and its allies already held an overwhelming majority in the outgoing parliament, where the opposition had just 12 deputies.
The main opposition party, the Panafrican Union for Social Democracy (UPADS), claimed the lone first-round opposition victory.
The PCT took 11 seats in Sassou Nguesso’s northern stronghold of Cuvette, where the president’s son Denis Christel Sassou Nguesso, a director at state-owned oil company SNPC, won outright.
The president’s daughter Claudia Lembouma Sassou Nguesso, who is communications advisor to her father, also won a seat in the capital Brazzaville.
Sassou Nguesso’s son-in-law Hugues Ngouelondele also won outright in the central town of Gamboma.
It was here that a four-year-old child was injured by a stray bullet and two other people were wounded as opposition protesters stormed an elections commission office after polls closed on Sunday.
Two Ukrainian pilots also died when the Congolese army helicopter they were flying crashed while returning from the town after the post-election violence.
The protest was sparked by a claim of fraud by Ngouelondele’s opponent Mathias Dzon, the leader of opposition coalition Alliance for the Republic and Democracy (ARD).
Dzon said Friday the first-round vote had been “completely rigged”.
“It has nothing to do with the reality on the ground, it doesn’t make any sense. We don’t recognise these results because they are completely false,” he told AFP.
After the last legislative elections in 2007, African Union observers said the polls had been marked by fraud and poor organisation.
The AU and the Economic Community of Central African States also criticised some problems with Sunday’s polls in a joint report, though they did not find evidence of fraud.
They said that candidates’ representatives had been allowed to act as poll workers, election rolls had been posted too late for voters to find their polling stations and poll staff had been poorly trained on voting procedures and equipment.
Sunday’s elections did not go ahead in three constituencies in the capital, Brazzaville, hit by a devastating explosion last March at an ammunitions dump that killed more than 300 people.
They were also cancelled in the southern district of Vindza after violence at an election rally held by the PCT candidate two days before the vote.
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