President Denis Sassou Nguesso of Congo-Brazzaville is seeking a fourth term in office in this year’s presidential election.
The 77-year-old Sassou Nguesso first came to power 1979 but had a five-year break after losing elections in 1992.
Nguesso was an opposition leader for five years and then came back to power during the Second Civil War (1997–1999) when his rebel forces ousted President Pascal Lissouba.
He has since been in power, winning all presidential elections held since 2002.
Nguesso supervised the change in constitution in a referendum in 2015 to remove term and age limits.
Since returning to power he has solidified his grip of the presidency with his victory in 2016 marred by violence and claims of fraud.
The president’s name has been submitted to the constitutional court for validation as part of eight presidential aspirants for the 21 March election.
But the largest opposition group, the Pan-African Union for Social Democracy (UPADS), has said it will boycott the polls.
He will face seven other challengers including the former finance minister, Mathias Dzon, and Guy-Brice Parfait Kolelas, the son of a former prime minister.
Others in the presidential race 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.