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Congo Leader Nguesso Promises Referendum Over Third Term

Congo President Denis Sassou Nguesso, center, arrives for a conference on Ebola at the Egmont Palace in Brussels on Tuesday, March 3, 2015. Liberia’s president is calling for a Marshall Plan of international aid to help eradicate Ebola from western Africa and rebuild economies, as the number of deaths from the disease approaches 10,000. Sirleaf told fellow regional leaders and delegates at a major international conference on Ebola in Brussels that rebuilding economies devastated by the outbreak is a long-term and costly task. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
Congo President Denis Sassou Nguesso, center, arrives for a conference on Ebola at the Egmont Palace in Brussels on Tuesday, March 3, 2015. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

(BBC) – Congo-Brazzaville’s leader has said he will hold a referendum on whether to change the constitution to allow him to stand for a controversial third term.

“I decided to give the people a direct voice,” said President Denis Sassou Nguesso, 72, who has ruled for more than 30 of the past 35 years.

The proposals would allow candidates aged over 70 to run for office and scrap the two-term limit.

No date was given for the referendum, but elections are due next year.

BBC Africa’s Mamadou Moussa Ba says the main opposition coalition is against the move, saying it could destabilise the country. It also complains that it will not have the same access to the media to voice concerns.

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