Annual Report: Republic of the Congo 2010

Report
May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Republic of the Congo 2010

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Head of state and government Denis Sassou-Nguesso (replaced Isidore Mvouba as head of
government in September)

Death penalty abolitionist in practice
Population 3.7 million
Life expectancy 53.5 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f) 135/122 per 1,000
Adult literacy 81.1 per cent

The rights to freedom of expression, assembly and movement of opposition leaders and supporters were restricted, especially in the aftermath of the July presidential elections. Several opposition supporters were detained and released without charge. Three asylum-seekers arrested in 2004 remained in military custody without charge or trial.

Background

President Denis Sassou-Nguesso won presidential elections in July and was sworn in for a seven-year term in August. The Constitutional Court declared that he had won with nearly 80 per cent of the votes cast. Opposition political parties and civil society organizations described the elections as fraudulent and unfair. Several opposition presidential candidates were barred by the electoral commission from standing on the grounds that they did not fulfil all the requisite conditions. After he was sworn in, President Sassou-Nguesso appointed a new government and abolished the post of prime minister, so becoming both head of state and government.

Sporadic incidents of banditry attributed to former members of the National Resistance Council (Conseil national de résistance, CNR) took place in the Pool region. Former CNR leader Frédéric Bintsamou denied that former CNR fighters were responsible for banditry. He also said that he fully adhered to a peace agreement signed by the CNR and the government in 2003.

In March, the government said that it had destroyed nearly 3,000 weapons it had purchased from former CNR fighters as part of a programme to demobilize them. Frédéric Bintsamou said that the government had failed to demobilize his fighters and reintegrate some of them into the national security forces, as stipulated in the 2003 peace agreement. In December, Frédéric Bintsamou formally accepted the post of Delegate General in charge of promoting the values of peace and repairing the ravages of war, to which he had been appointed by President Sassou-Nguesso in 2007.

Freedom of assembly, expression and movement

As in previous years, government security forces used excessive force to suppress peaceful demonstrations. Members of opposition political parties were denied the enjoyment of their rights to freedom of assembly, expression and movement.

Three days after the July presidential elections, a number of opposition political parties held a demonstration in the capital, Brazzaville, to protest against what they called fraudulent elections. Government forces used tear gas and live ammunition to disperse the demonstrators, injuring some.