By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent
BRAZZAVILLE (Worthy News) – The government of the Republic of Congo, also known as Congo-Brazzaville, denied late Sunday that an alleged coup was underway against longtime President Denis Sassou.
Several social media alleged that the military took over critical facilities in the Central African nation’s capital, Brazzaville, located on the right bank of the Congo River opposite Kinshasa, the capital of the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The coup was allegedly underway while the 79-year-old president, who has been in power since 1997, visited New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly.
Initial reports about the coup had pointed to the Presidential Guard commander, but the government vehemently denied the “false news.”
“Fictitious information suggests that serious events are taking place in Brazzaville,” said Minister of Communication and Media and government spokesman Thierry Moungalla.
“The government rejects this false news. We assure public opinion of the calm that prevails and invite people to go about their activities calmly,” Moungalla added on social platform X, formerly known as Twitter.
He did not give further details, and it was unclear what had sparked the social media uproar.
However, fears of a coup have been rife since August 30, when the military seized power in neighboring Gabon after electoral authorities announced the victory of ousted President Ali Bongo, who had ruled since 2009.
A Congolese coup would have been the third coup in Africa in less than a year. The first was in Niger and then in Gabon.
Congolese President Nguesso announced his arrival in New York on Sunday on his X account to attend the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
“My stay in the city is also an opportunity to strengthen bilateral relations and promote the summit of the three tropical forest basins to be held next month in Brazaville,” the Congolese president added.
Nguesso won a fourth consecutive term in March 2021 with 88.57 percent of the vote, according to official results.
He first came to power in 1979 after a coup in 1977. He ruled in a one-party regime until 1992 when he lost the country’s first multiparty elections following a quarter century of experimentation with Marxism.
He returned to power in 1997 after a brief but bloody civil war in which Angolan troops backed him.
THE EMPEROR NICKNAME
Since then, Nguesso, nicknamed “The Emperor” by some African colleagues, has remained head of state after winning elections in 2002, 2009, 2016, and 2021 amid frequent accusations of fraud by the opposition.
In 2015, the president promoted a constitutional reform that allowed him to run for a new mandate in 2016 through a referendum in which he received more than 92 percent support.
However, critics pointed out that only 5 percent of voters participated.
The Congolese president is the third longest-serving president in Africa, after Equatoguinean Teodoro Obiang and Cameroonian Paul Biya, who have governed since 1979 and 1982, respectively.
A coup in the country of 5.7 million, which gained independence in 1960, could have impacted markets as the Republic of Congo is one of Africa’s largest petroleum producers.
It would have added to concerns among a population where most citizens claim to be Christian, though many still carry on indigenous religious practices to some degree.
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