Congo’s presidential election campaigns officially kicked off on Friday, March 5. Seven presidential candidates including outgoing leader Denis Sassou Nguesso are vying for the country’s top seat.
With 15 days to woo voters, presidential hopefuls began campaigning across the country. In hopes of winning a fourth term, 77 year old leader Nguesso took to the country’s economic capital Pointe Noire. The veteran leader, who has been in power since 1979, except for a five-year period after losing elections in 1992, kept his first day of campaigns along his mantra of peace.
« We can achieve nothing, absolutely nothing, without peace in the country. So we will all commit ourselves to keeping the peace, to always maintaining peace in the country, » noted the president.
Furthermore, while soliciting votes, Nguesso said if elected for another term he will work on diversifying the country’s dependency on oil. He said he would do so by promoting agriculture noting that the country imports 700 billion CFA Francs (which is just over a billion Euros) of food annually. At the same time he pledged the construction of a public university in the economic capital. A prospect that would finally allow the city of Pointe-Noire to have its first public higher education institution sixty years after the construction of the Marien Ngouabi University and recently that of Kintele, in Brazzaville.
In Brazzaville, not a lot of activity was taking place in comparison to Pointe Noire. This is despite the presence of banners, posters, flyers and effigies in the streets of the capital.
The youngest presidential hopeful, 38 year old Dave Mafoula, embarked on touring Brazzaville. He began his presidential campaigns by visiting King Auguste Nguempio in the Mbé region at the majesty’s royal palace. Mafoula maintained his campaign pledge dubbed « Presidential Contract » aimed at transforming the oil rich nation in order to restore its economic and social equilibrium.
Joseph Kignoumbi Kia Mboungou, 68, running for the fourth consecutive time was to participated in a virtual session. Presenting himself as a youth candidate, Mboungou, vowed to fight for better management and a real distribution of national wealth. He also stated that he will diversify the country’s dependency on oil.
Meanwhile, most candidates are scheduled to kickstart their campaigns over the weekend. Guy Brice Parfait Kolelas, a first runner up in the last elections, is scheduled to begin his campaign Saturday in Ouesso in the far north of the country. Mathias Dzon, 73, who is contesting for the second time in Congo’s presidential elections, has planned a motorized parade through the streets of Brazzaville. 66 year old Albert Oniangué, a pastor and former senior officer of the Congolese army, will be in Owando, a town in the Central part of the country.