In less than a month the Republic of Congo will hold presidential elections. With the polls slated March 21, the country’s defence and security forces will cast their votes four days earlier so that they can be deployed on polling day for elections to run smoothly. Eight presidential hopefuls had submitted their candidacy with the electoral commission. However, only seven including the incumbent will compete for the country’s top seat. Below is a brief bio of each of the candidates.
Mathias Dzon, 73, is a politician contesting for the second time in Congo’s presidential elections. He is running on the Alliance pour la république et la démocratie (ARD) [Alliance for the Republic and Democracy] ticket. Dzon, a banker turned politician is a former finance minister. He served in this capacity in the period 1997 to 2002 under current president Denis Sassou Nguesso. He was also the deputy of Gamboma, a town located in the Plateaux Region, from 1992 to 2002. In 2006, he joined the ranks of the opposition, founding the Union patriotique pour le renouveau national (UPRN) [Patriotic Union for National Renewal] and heading the ARD. He showed interest in the 2009 presidential elections which he boycotted halfway through but managed to secure 2.3 per cent of the votes cast. For the upcoming March 21 elections, the 73 year old has stated that he will go all the way. Once elected, he hopes to pull Congo out of its current economic impasse.
Joseph Kignoumbi Kia Mbougou
Joseph Kignoumbi Kia Mbougou, 68, is running for the fourth consecutive time in the March 21 presidential polls. The Pointe Noire, Congo’s economic capital, native, presents himself as the youth candidate. An unfortunate candidate in the presidential elections of 2002, 2009 and 2016, he was recently cleared to contest yet again for the country’s top seat. In 2017, Mboungou stood for re-election in the legislative polls, he sits in the National Assembly as deputy of Sibiti District, he is also the second secretary of the lower house of Parliament.
Running on the La Chaine party ticket, which he is the president, Mboungou has vowed to fight for better management and a real distribution of national wealth. He has also stated that he will diversify the country’s dependency on petroleum exports.
Guy Brice Parfait Kolelas
Guy Brice Parfait Kolelas is a Congolese veteran politician. He has served in the government of president Denis Sassou Nguesso as Minister of Marine and Inland Fishing from 2007 to 2009 and as Minister of the Civil Service from 2009 to 2015.
In 2016, the former Civil Service Minister went on to contest in the presidential elections and came in second. The 61 year old has formulated a plan to turnaround the country based on decentralization, a concept that envisions a subdivision of Congo into four autonomous provinces. He intends to do this once elected.
Dave Mafoula is a political advisor. At 38 years old, he is the youngest presidential hopeful. An unsuccessful candidate during the legislative elections of 2017, in the constituency of Loukolela, the leader of Les Souverainistes [The Sovereignists] hopes to turn things around come March 21 running as an independent.
His campaign pledge dubbed « Presidential Contract » aims at transforming the oil rich nation in order to restore its economic and social equilibrium. Mafoula first announced his candidacy in July 2020 stating that it was high time for him to take responsibilities as a politician and give back to his country. To support his election bid, the 38 year old launched a fundraising campaign early in January.
Anguios Nganguia Engambé
Anguios Nganguia Engambé is a businessman cum politician running for the third consecutive time in Congo’s presidential poll. He ran unsuccessfully in the 2009 and 2016 polls. On both occasions he was the flag bearer of the Parti pour l’action de la République Mâ (PAR) [Party for the Action of the Republic Mâ]. In the March 2021 polls, Engambé, will once again defend the colors of this party.
He has served in public administration for more than three decades. The former customs inspector, presents himself as someone with an avant-garde style of leadership as he recently held primaries for his party to elect a candidate which he went on to clinch. If elected, Engambé has pledged to prioritise education, public health, electrification of the region, security, fair justice, just to mention but a few.
66 year old Albert Oniangué is a pastor and former senior officer of the Congolese army. Oniangué was notably aide-de-camp from 1978 to 1992 to two Congolese heads of state, the late Jacques Joachim Yhombi Opango and Denis Sassou Nguesso. After escaping an assassination attempt in 1993, Oniangué was forced into exile in France for five years.
In 1998, the officer returned to the Central African nation and joined the army reserve. The retired colonel announced his candidacy earlier in the month. He is running as an independent. His campaign is focused on social justice and moral order to transform the Central African nation.
Denis Sassou Nguesso
Denis Sassou Nguesso is seeking a fourth term in office. The 77 year old has been in power since 1979, except for a five-year period after losing elections in 1992. The head of state has governed the oil rich nation for a total of 36 years. If re-elected, the veteran leader will stand for another five-year term.
A constitution change following a 2015 referendum removed a 70 year age limit and a ban on presidents serving more than two terms. He is the oldest candidate in the March 21 vote. His candidacy, solicited for several months by the 17 parties that make up his presidential majority, was only confirmed on January 23 during his visit to Kibangou in the Niari department.
Sassou Nguesso wears many hats but one which stands out is his role as a conflict mediator in the continent. With this in mind, for the upcoming elections one of Sassou Nguesso’s main credo is peace. « Together we will participate in peace to continue the march towards development » he said when announcing his candidacy.