Congo's ruling coalition wins 90 percent of seats

BRAZZAVILLE Fri Aug 10, 2007 10:01pm BST

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BRAZZAVILLE (Reuters) - Congolese President Denis Sassou-Nguesso's ruling coalition kept its firm grip on power by winning 90 percent of the seats in a parliamentary election in the oil-producing nation, official results showed on Friday.

Sassou-Nguesso's ruling Congolese Work Party (PCT) and affiliated groups won 124 of 137 seats in a poll held over two rounds on June 24 and August 5, according to results announced by the ministry of territorial administration.

Turnout was low and the first round, boycotted by some opposition parties, was so chaotic that it had to be cancelled and re-run in more than a tenth of the constituencies.

The opposition won 11 seats. Because of their remote location, which hampered polling, two seats must still be decided in a re-run, even after the second round.

Opposition parties have accused the government of packing the electoral commission with its supporters and tampering with electoral lists.

Major opposition groups decided to contest the election but in many parts of the north there were no challengers to the official candidate.

Sassou-Nguesso took office at the head of a military regime in 1979 and ruled for 13 years before losing elections in 1992 during a democratic transition. He returned to power in 1997 in an Angolan-backed uprising which sparked a two-year civil war.

He was ratified in office at a presidential poll in 2002.

Despite being sub-Saharan Africa's fifth-largest oil producer, more than half of Congo Republic's population lives below the poverty line. It was ranked as the 14th most corrupt country in the world in a 2006 Transparency International study.

The next presidential election is in 2009.

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