Congo Police Fire Teargas, Make Arrests At Opposition Meeting

benin presidentPolice in Congo Republic fired teargas at opposition supporters and arrested around 10 of them on Friday ahead of a planned news conference by opposition candidates who say last weekend’s presidential election was won fraudulently.

President Denis Sassou Nguesso, who has ruled the Central African oil producer for 32 of the last 37 years, won re-election in Sunday’s poll with 60 percent of the vote, according to official results announced on Thursday.

Early on Friday, around 100 police officers were positioned outside of the headquarters of the opposition UPADS party in the capital Brazzaville’s Diata neighborhood, where a coalition of five candidates was expected to announce their own poll results.

A Reuters witness saw police fire at least two teargas canisters at the crowd that had gathered there and force about 10 opposition supporters into vehicles.

An opposition representative told Reuters the scheduled news conference had been canceled.

The government spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

On Wednesday, the opposition coalition denounced alleged fraud during the polls. It said that its own results showed Sassou Nguesso headed for defeat and promised to make public its own vote tallies.

Retired General Jean-Marie Mokoko, a former army chief turned opposition figure who finished third in the election, called for a campaign of civil disobedience on Thursday, potentially setting the stage for protests.

In a statement late on Thursday, the U.S. State Department advised all parties to remain calm and asked that any challenges to the results be made in compliance with Congolese law.

“The United States remains concerned about the transparency and credibility of the electoral process, including reports of irregularities, and the prolonged communications blackout,” it said.

The government cut telephone and Internet communications ahead of the vote, a measure it said aimed to prevent unofficial election results circulating and causing unrest. Services were only restored on Thursday.

Congo’s constitution was changed by referendum last year, lifting term and age limits that would have excluded Sassou Nguesso from running for another term in office.

At least 18 people were killed by security forces during opposition demonstrations ahead of the October referendum.

Congo’s election has been watched closely across Africa, where several long-ruling presidents are trying to remove constitutionally mandated term limits so that they can stay in power.

U.S. Accuses Uganda Of Rights Violations

Rights Violations
Uganda President, Yoweri Museveni

The United States has accused Uganda of persistently violating the rights of its citizens and media in the aftermath of February’s presidential election.

The allegation of rights violations are the latest signs of worsening relations between western powers and Uganda, an ally in the fight against Islamists in the region.

U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby, said in a statement that Uganda’s repeated detention of opposition figures and harassment of their supporters, and the government’s interference in a challenge of the poll results are “unacceptable activities in a free and democratic society”.

“The United States and Uganda have a long standing and strong partnership that has contributed to the stability and prosperity of the region.

“We are concerned that the Ugandan government’s recent actions could endanger the economic and political progress that has enabled our relationship to grow,” the statement said.

Uganda’s electoral commission declared 71-year-old incumbent president, Yoweri Museveni, the winner of the Feb. 18 election with 60% of the vote.

Kizza Besigye, who came in second with 35% and who is currently under house arrest, has rejected the results.


President Buhari Appoints Tolu Ogunlesi Head Of New Media

Tolu-OgunlesiPresident Muhammadu Buhari has appointed Mr Tolu Ogunlesi, as his Special Assistant on Digital and New Media.

Mr Ogunlesi’s appointment was announced on Thursday by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina.

Ogunlesi, a renowned blogger and journalist, graduated from the University of Ibadan in 2004, and obtained an MA in Creative Writing from University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom in 2011.

Before his appointment, Ogunlesi had worked as a Features Editor and Editorial Board member of NEXT Newspaper.

He also worked as a West Africa Editor for the Africa Report magazine from 2014 to 2015.

Ogunlesi is a two-time winner of the CNN Multichoice African Journalism Awards, and a 2015 New Media Fellow of the U.S. State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Programme (IVLP).

He would be assisted by Bashir Ahmad, who is a Personal Assistant to the President on New Media.