Election officials in Republic of Congo have declared longtime President Denis Sassou N’Guesso the winner of an election marked by his main opponent’s death from COVID-19
It will see him serve another five-year term.
The 77-year-old leader has been in power for a total of 36 years.
The preliminary results showed he is well ahead of his main rival Guy-Brice Parfait Kolelas, who died from coronavirus on Sunday.
Kolelas took 7.84% of the vote, according to the results which can be appealed to the Constitutional Court.
Voter participation was at 67.55%.
One of the world’s longest-serving rulers, Sassou Nguesso was the frontrunner in an election boycotted by the main opposition and under an internet blackout.
He has long been accused by critics of iron-fisted rule and turning a blind eye to corruption, poverty and inequality despite abundant oil wealth.
Who is the incumbent president?
Sassou Nguesso, a former paratrooper, first rose to power in the Republic of Congo in 1979.
He was forced to introduce multi-party elections in 1991 and was defeated at the ballot box a year later.
But he returned to power in 1997 following a prolonged civil war and has won every election since then, in conditions that the opposition says were fraudulent.
A constitutional amendment in 2015, which ended a ban on presidential candidates aged over 70 and scrapped a two-term limit, allowed him to run again in 2016. Two candidates in that vote — former army general Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko and ex-minister Andre Okombi Salissa — were sentenced in 2018 to 20 years in prison for “undermining state security”.