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Main opposition to boycott Republic of Congo elections

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The Republic of Congo’s main opposition party will boycott the March 21 elections in which President Denis Sassou Nguesso, in power for decades, is running for re-election.

The 77-year-old has held office for a total of 36 years, making him one of the longest-serving leaders in the world and head of a deeply poor nation.

The holding of the presidential election “must not divide us as it has done in the past”, said Pascal Tsaty Mabiala, first secretary of the opposition group Pan-African Union for Social Democracy (Upads).

“We have unanimously decided not to take part in it, either directly, or by a proxy candidate,” he added.

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Upads — the group of former president Pascal Lissouba, who died in France last August — is the only opposition party to have a parliamentary group in the current national assembly.

Lissouba was overthrown in a brief civil war in 1997 by Sassou Nguesso, who had lost the country’s first multi-party elections in 1992.

In 2015, the country staged a referendum on removing a 70-year age limit and a ban on presidents serving more than two terms.

The move paved the way for Sassou Nguesso to secure a third term in 2016 elections that were marred by bloodshed and claims of fraud.

His rivals, former general Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko and ex-minister Andre Okombi Salissa, disputed the results.

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They were arrested, put on trial and each handed 20 years in jail on charges of undermining state security.

The country is in the grip of a deep economic crisis, triggered by the slump in oil prices but worsened by long-standing debt and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Museveni sworn in for sixth term as Ugandan president

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Museveni, 76, won re-election in January despite widespread reports of irregularities

Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni was sworn in Wednesday for his sixth term as president, as police surrounded the home of his main opposition rival who decried the inauguration as a “sham”.

Museveni, who won re-election in January despite widespread reports of irregularities, took the oath of office at a ceremony in Kampala broadcast on national television and attended by several African heads of state and other foreign dignitaries.

The 76-year-old, wearing a dark blue suit and his trademark wide-brimmed safari hat, promised to “pay true allegiance” to the East African country he has ruled nonstop since taking power as a rebel leader in 1986.

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His victory in January was overshadowed by the bloodiest pre-election crackdown in years, with opposition candidates forcibly prevented from campaigning and dozens of protesters killed by security forces.

Opposition leader Bobi Wine, who came second to Museveni in the ballot but declared the vote rigged, said police and soldiers had “besieged” his home on the outskirts of Kampala and prevented him from leaving.

“Dictator Museveni is swearing in well aware he stole the elections and disenfranchised Ugandans and he is scared of people opposing the sham ceremony,” the 39-year-old singer-turned-lawmaker told AFP.

“Even if he has sworn in, we will continue the struggle to dislodge him from power through peaceful means and this will come soon.”

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Kizza Besigye, an opposition veteran who ran and lost against Museveni in four disputed and often violent presidential elections, was also placed under effective house arrest.

Police spokesman Fred Enanga described the measures as “normal” precautions taken to protect Wine and Besigye.

“There was intelligence reports that some people wanted to cause disruptions during the swearing-in ceremony and we took precaution to provide security for some leaders, including the opposition leaders including Bobi Wine and Besigye,” he said.

“This is normal security deployment for VIPs.”

However, Enanga also said Wine was planning to hold a parallel swearing-in ceremony and this would be “illegal and treasonous and police will not allow him to do so.”

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Wine challenged the election result in court but later withdrew his petition, saying the judiciary was stacked in favour of Museveni.

In March he urged Ugandans to “rise up peacefully and unarmed” in protest against Museveni’s ongoing rule. Since the election, the opposition has alleged that security forces have been abducting their supporters.

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Benin: Court confirms the re-election of President Talon

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The re-election of President Patrice Talon was confirmed Wednesday by the Constitutional Court of Benin.

Talon, 62, in power since 2016, won the April 11 poll alongside Vice President Mariam Chabi Talata, with 1,982,534 votes out of a total of 2,297,315 valid votes cast, according to the court.

The re-elected president is the 14th head of state of the Republic of Benin.

Some opposition parties boycotted the presidential election due to pre-election violence and their objection to President Patrice Talon’s quest for a second term.

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Somalia: Parliament votes to extend presidential term

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The lower house of Somalia’s parliament voted on Monday to extend the president’s term by two years.

It is about letting the African nation prepare for direct elections, said Mohamed Mursal Sheikh, speaker of parliament.

One hundred and forty-nine (149) lawmakers voted in favor of the proposal which one rejected and three abstained, Mursal said.

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