The campaign season in the much anticipated presidential elections in the Republic of Congo is taking shape.
With only 10 days to woo voters, presidential candidates have been unveiling their manifestos. Since campaigns launched four days ago, outgoing president Denis Sassou Nguesso has been touring the coastal part of the country. The incumbent leader set foot in the economic capital Pointe Noire in front of a massive crowd before heading to Loango, then Dolisie and later Sibiti. His opponents were also in various cities.
Guy Brice Parfait Kolelas was intended to travel to Ouesso in the far north of the country on Saturday. However, the flight was cancelled resulting in his campaign team calling the move a sabotage. Nevertheless, he made headway touring the outskirts of Brazzaville, in Nganga-lingolo, before heading to Kinkala a town located in southeastern, then Mindouli, a district in the Pool Region. Kolelas, a first runner up in the last elections, is said to be heading further south towards Pointe Noire.
Albert Oniangué started his campaign in Owando, a town in the Central part of the country. He says he chose to start his campaigns there in order to pay homage to former president Joachim Yhombi-Opango, who he says shaped his future. The pastor and former senior officer of the Congolese army, later moved to the village of Ewo and later Ouesso where he presented his manifesto to the people which emphasises on diversified business development and access to basic services.
Mathias Dzon, who is contesting for the second time in Congo’s presidential elections, began with a motorized parade through the streets of Brazzaville and Gamboma, a town located in the Plateaux Region. Dzon who is travelling by road was scheduled to hold a political rally in Ouesso on Sunday. However, according to his campaign team, the mayor of the town failed to authorise the assembly. Just like his opponent Kolelas, Dzon and his team stated that this was obstruction from those in power. Nevertheless, he was able to hold his rally albeit a day later than intended.
Despite challenges faced on the campaign trail, these candidates have demonstrated strength in the field, mobilizing citizens during rallies or simple drive throughs in the various localities they visited. Taking advantage of these mobilizations, the candidates have presented their manifestos to voters as they intend to tour all departments in the country.
Meanwhile, the likes of Joseph Kignoumbi Kia Mboungou, Anguios Engambé, and Dave Mafoula have chosen a different approach leaving many political observers perplexed. Since campaigns began on Friday, the trio have been stationed in Brazzaville and so far have only been involved in outreach activities. According to analysts, while these initiatives show their desire to be as close as possible to the Congolese electorate, the scope of these actions does not correspond to the ambitions of a presidential election whose electorate is located throughout the country.
In the absence of unveiled campaign plans, some campaign teams ensure that their deployment strategy is being finalized, while others assume their anti-conformist and avant-garde positions.