Law enforcement officers in the Republic of Congo are preparing to head to the polls to choose the country’s next leader four days before the entire nation.
The country’s security services, including the Army (Forces Armées Congolaises), National Police (controlled by the Ministry of the Interior) and Gendarmerie (a police force under the control of the Ministry of Defense) will vote in over one hundred special polling stations spread across the country.
According to Interior Minister Raymond Zephyrin Mboulou, the reason behind the decision of having security and defence officers take to the ballot on the 17th of March, is so they can devote themselves to securing the vote on March 21.
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In the beginning of the year, the opposition voiced concerns on the early voting process stating that this move risks encouraging double votes. Nevertheless, the president of the Independent Electoral National Commission of Congo (CNEI) Henri Bouka assured there would not be polling stations in the barracks as the law prohibits it. He added that an order establishing the location of the 131 special polling stations selected for the early voting of the law enforcement officers was issued by the Interior Ministry.
Meanwhile, seven presidential hopefuls are contesting for the presidency including outgoing veteran leader Denis Sassou Nguesso. The other candidates include, last elections first runner up Guy Brice Parfait Kolelas, Joseph Kignoumbi Kia Mboungou, an unfortunate candidate in the last three elections, Mathias Dzon, who is contesting for the second time, Dave Mafoula, a political advisor and the youngest candidate in the race, Anguios Nganguia Engambé, a businessman cum politician running for the third consecutive time and finally Albert Oniangué, a pastor and former senior officer of the Congolese army.