The longtime president of the Republic of Congo, Denis Sassou Nguesso, is now eligible to run for a third consecutive term, after voters overwhelmingly approved amendments to the constitution in a referendum last Sunday, according to the official results announced Tuesday.
The opposition, which has protested 72-year-old Sassou’s attempt to retain power since he announced his intentions in May, urged voters to boycott the referendum and called for civil disobedience. The government issued a ban on public gatherings, but protests ensued. Tens of thousands of demonstrators were met with a violent government crackdown.
According to government officials, clashes between police and protesters reportedly left five dead and at least 10 injured, generating harsh condemnation from Amnesty International and the U.S. State Department. Authorities also cut communications during the demonstrations, barring text messages, Internet access and Radio France International broadcasts.