Congo’s longtime president calls referendum in bid to extend rule

France24, September 23

Congo Brazzaville’s President Denis Sassou Nguesso said Tuesday he was going ahead with a referendum on changes to the constitution that could allow him to extend his hold on power.

“I decided to give the people a direct voice” on the bill, Sassou Nguesso, who has ruled for 30 of the past 35 years, said in a statement on public radio and television, though he gave no dates for the vote.

A commission, the composition of which is not yet known, must propose a new draft constitution before a date is chosen for the referendum.

The 72-year-old president had previously convened a “national dialogue”, which came out “by a large majority” in favour of amending the constitution to remove an upper limit on the age of presidential candidates as well as the number of terms the head of state can serve.

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