The Republic of Congo’s government has announced new restrictive measures ahead of the March 21 presidential polls.
The country’s Ministry of Interior and Decentralisation issued a set of orders on Wednesday, March 17. The ministry defined the orders as temporary restrictive measures, applicable throughout the country on voting day from 6am to 6pm.
According to Interior Minister Raymond Zephirin Mboulou, Congo will shut its national borders and ban certain activities.
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In the decree which will be registered and published in the Official Gazette, Congo has banned automobile traffic, demonstrations on public roads and the gathering of people, the opening of market places, bars, night clubs and carrying of weapons of any category without special authorization. Nevertheless, the prohibition on driving does not apply to the vehicles of the heads of diplomatic missions, as well as to those of the police force.
The Ministry specifies that these bans also apply to campaign teams and only candidates will be granted special safe-conduct to their polling stations.
More than 2.5 million of the country’s 5 million population have registered to partake in the vote. Already, the country’s defence and security forces exercised their civic duties in early voting, four days before the general vote. This was done so that they can devote themselves to securing the ballot on polling day.
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Visiting one of the 131 special polling stations, the president of the Independent Electoral National Commission of Congo (CNEI) Henri Bouka said “It is for the first time that we organize a special vote for the members of the public force composed of disciplined people who come to vote all at the same time.”