Congo opposition leader makes 'peaceful uprising' call

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image copyrightAFP
image captionOne placard from an earlier protest reads: "Congo is not the property of Nguesso"

An opposition leader in Congo-Brazzaville has called for a "peaceful uprising" ahead of Sunday's referendum on whether the president can run for office again, AFP news agency reports.

The call comes after at least four people were killed in clashes between police and protesters.

Pascal Tsaty Mabiala of the PanAfrican Union for Social Democracy wants to stop Sunday's vote going ahead.

President Denis Sassou Nguesso has been in power since 1997.

The vote is aimed at pushing through changes to the constitution such as scrapping age and two-term limits.

Police fired shots and tear gas in the capital, Brazzaville, on Tuesday in a clamp down on protests against the president's bid for a third term.

Texting and internet services were cut and public meetings banned ahead of the referendum, residents said.

image copyrightAFP
image captionElections are due next year and as the constitution stands Denis Sassou Nguesso could not stand

Other journalists told the BBC that most shops in Brazzaville were shut, and people were staying at home amid fears of violence.

"People are demonstrating across the city. The police are firing tear gas bombs," Tresor Nzila, head of the Congolese Observatory of Human Rights, told the Reuters news agency.

"In certain places, the police have fired warning shots with live fire."

The opposition have been campaigning under the slogan "Sassoufit", a pun on the French expression for "that's enough".

Africa's longest-serving leaders:

  • 36 years: Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo - Equatorial Guinea, took power in a coup in August 1979
  • 36 years: Jose Eduardo dos Santos - Angola, took over after death of the country's first president in September 1979
  • 35 years: Robert Mugabe - Zimbabwe, won the country's independence elections in April 1980
  • 32 years: Paul Biya - Cameroon, took over after resignation of the country's first president in November 1982
  • 31 years: Denis Sassou Nguesso - Congo, installed by the military in October 1979, out of power from August 1992-October 1997
  • 29 years: Yoweri Museveni - Uganda, became president after his rebel group took power in January 1986

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