BRAZZAVILLE, Republic of Congo (AP) — Seven people were injured on Tuesday in in clashes between police and demonstrators against a constitutional referendum to allow Republic of Congo’s longtime president to run for a new term, said a hospital official.
Five were wounded by gunfire and two by tear gas cannisters, said Rozan Songui, a hospital administrator. The demonstrators were protesting against the Oct. 25 referendum to allow President Denis Sasou N’Guesso, 71, to run for another term.
Calm was restored to most areas of the capital, Brazzaville, by Tuesday evening and police were removing burned tires and other barricades from the streets, said residents. Earlier in the day police had fired tear gas to disperse protesters, said Rudel Ganziami, a resident of Brazzaville’s southern Bacongo district.
Phone and internet service appeared to be down in much the city on Tuesday.
Under current laws 71-year-old President Denis Sassou N’Guesso is barred from seeking re-election when his second term expires next year. The referendum calls for the limit of two terms to be scrapped as well as changing a regulation preventing candidates older than 70 years.
The protests in Brazzaville come after six people were injured in weekend clashes in Repbublic of Congo’s second largest city, Point-Noire.
By the time his current term ends next year, Sassou N’Guesso will have served more than 30 years as leader of this Central African nation, though not continuously.
He first ruled the country of more than 4 million people from 1979 until a 1992 election defeat. He then seized power in 1997, following a civil war in which his rebel forces ousted the president. He was elected in 2002 and then again in 2009 for what was to be his second and final seven-year term.
LOUIS OKAMBA, Associated Press
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