Republic of Congo president Denis Sassou-Nguesso expands corruption, dictatorship

On March 21, the president of the Republic of Congo, Denis Sassou-Nguesso, won an election with 88% of the vote cast despite being deeply unpopular.

Although the celebration outside his party office in Brazzaville seemed to communicate otherwise, the victory comes as no surprise for a ruler with an iron fist who has been in power for nearly 37 years.

Many of the people of Brazzaville seemed unmoved to cast their vote, or even to leave their home for what would typically be a monumental event.

Most of the people in Congo have never been governed by anyone else as Mr. Sassou-Nguesso is Africa’s third-longest-serving president.

Corruption is about control. Mr.Sassou-Nguesso does this by cementing his influence and removing opposing influence and exposure from the outside world.

 It can be done through self-serving legislation.  Such as amending the constitution in 2015 in  order to remove the presidential age limit of 70(he is now 77).

He also has manipulated the rule of law to lock up previous opposition candidate for over 20 years of hard labor for simply contesting the election result in 2016.  In doing so, he removes there influence and silences the possibility of what might have been a fraudulent victory by Mr.Sassou-Nguesso. This also communicates to the people, and other powerholding spokespersons , that refuting his claim means punishment.  The now jailed opposing candidates efforts are halted, they can no longer rally people and advocate against his controlling ways.

Corruption  comes from the top down and amongst the people. Mr.Sassou-Nguesso had policemen and soldiers ‘reminded’ by their bosses of where their loyalties lie. “reminded” could be a metaphor for many things. Bribe, incentive, threat.  Even the people were allegedly paid to vote for the president.

Isolation from outside world, control over decision making, and limiting external influence are additional priorities in Mr.Sassou-Nguesso’s dictatorial agenda, or any dictator for that matter.  The UN and EU were not invited into the country. The Catholic church, which was poised to deploy around a thousand observers, was refused access at the last minute. The internet was switched off on polling day and only switched on again days later. These are clearly acts of isolation, and a creation of a corrupt echochamber.

Corrupt power fuels itself. Global Witness, an international anti-corruption watchdog, claims that the president’s son, Denis Christel Sassou-Nguesso, has stolen millions of dollars from the opaquely managed national oil company, SNPC. Last year prosecutors in America asked a court to seize an apartment worth $3m in Miami they said had been bought with embezzled cash. Meanwhile, nearly half of the population survive on less than $2 a day. More than a third of Congolese are unemployed.

Money is and has been a medium to exerting control .

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