Congo leader to face seven challengers in fourth term bid

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BBC Monitoring The world through its media

The authorities in Congo-Brazzaville have submitted the names of eight presidential aspirants to the constitutional court for validation ahead of the 21 March election.

President Denis Sassou Nguesso will face seven challengers including the former finance minister, Mathias Dzon, and Guy-Brice Parfait Kolelas, the son of a former prime minister.

Others are Albert Oniangue, a former aide-de-camp of Sassou-Nguesso, Joseph Kignoumbi Kia Mbougou, a former MP, Anguios Nganguia Engambe, customs official, MP Michel Mboussi Ngouari and Deve Mafoula, a 38-year-old aspirant.

The largest opposition group, the Pan-African Union for Social Democracy (UPADS), has said it will boycott the polls.

The 77-year-old Sassou Nguesso is seeking a fourth term. He has been in power since 1979, except for a five-year period after losing elections in 1992.

The constitution was changed in a referendum in 2015 to remove term and age limits.

His victory in 2016 was marred by violence and claims of fraud