Protests erupt against extension of Congo president's rule

Congolese gather in Brazzaville, country's capital, to protest extension of Denis Sassou Nguesso's rule

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

President of the Republic of Congo, Denis Sassou Nguesso

Over 300,000 people gathered in the Congolese capital, Brazzaville, on Sunday to express their stance against President Denis Sassou Nguesso's attempt to have new laws adopted that would extend his rule.

Nguesso announced that he will hold a referendum on amendments to the country's constitution. The protesters believe that he wants to legally extend his time in office since the constitution does not allow him to serve for another term.

He has been president of the Congo since 1997.

“The day President Sassou announces the date of the referendum, we will call upon you and we, ourselves, will be in front of you,” the president’s former ally Andre Okombi Salissa, told the protesters.

A protester holding a sign saying "Sasso enough" referring to Denis Sassou Nguesso

The protesters held signs with “Sassou Out” and “Congo does not belong to Nguesso” written on them as they shouted "No to a third term", "No to a constitutional coup" and "No to a referendum."

Protestor carries placard stating "Congo is not the property of Dennis Sassou Nguesso"'

Sassou was first elected in 1979 and served as president until 1992. However, he returned to power in 1997.

It is not the first time Sassou has called for such a referendum. In the past he has called for a "national dialogue" which resulted in removing the age limit for presidential candidates and increasing the limit on the number of terms a candidate can stand for election.

Congo's opposition has described Sassou’s actions as a "constitutional coup."

The protest rally ended in peace without any injuries.

TRTWorld and agencies