Opponents of President Denis Sassou Nguesso demanded Saturday in Brazzaville the release of two former presidential candidates in 2016, before the presidential election of 2021 in the Republic of Congo.
“We want to have an election without political prisoners in 2021,” said opposition leader Claudine Munari.
“We are ready to go to this election because our beliefs remain firm. But on one condition: that Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko and André Okombi Salissa are first released, “she added.
Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko (72 years old) is a former Chief of Staff of the Army from 1987 to 1993, while André Okombi Salissa (58) was minister uninterrupted between 1997 and 2012.
Both contested opposition candidates in the 2016 presidential election, they did not recognize the re-election of Mr. Sassou Nguesso, 76, including 35 at the head of the Congo.
They were tried in 2018 and 2019 respectively and sentenced to 20 years of forced labor each for “undermining the internal security of the state” and “illegal possession of weapons and ammunition”.
“Mokoko and Okombi Salissa did nothing to the Congolese people. Those who have harmed the people by looting and who have made the drugs missing in our hospitals or bench-tables in our schools are still free, “said Ms. Munari.
“They were jailed because they just took part in the 2016 presidential elections,” added the opponent.
With regard to the upcoming presidential election, the opposition believes that it is not yet preparing for a year and a half of the deadline.
Clément Miérassa, a member of the opposition federation, fears “a non-free, non-transparent and undemocratic election”: “Even the simple census is a concern”.