The Republic of Congo voted Sunday in a presidential election boycotted by the main opposition and attacked by critics as tilted towards veteran leader Denis Sassou Nguesso.
Access to the internet and social media was cut hours before polls opened at 7 am (0600 GMT), AFP correspondents said.
The 77-year-old Sassou Nguesso is widely expected to win against six contenders, led by economist Guy-Brice Parfait Kolelas, who revealed Saturday that he is gravely ill with Covid-19.
Sassou Nguesso, a former paratrooper, first rose to power in 1979 and has since accumulated 36 years in office, making him one of the world’s longest-serving leaders.
He is hoping for a first-round victory to secure a fourth term running the central African oil exporter.
Speaking after he cast his own vote, Sassou Nguesso said that the “atmosphere of peace” during the election campaign — marked by police crackdowns on the opposition — was “a good sign for our democracy”.
But when asked about security when election results are announced, which triggered a wave of violence at the last vote in 2016, he responded: “I’m not God”.
Sassou Nguesso also confirmed that a medical plane had arrived in capital Brazzaville that could bring his opponent Kolelas to Paris for treatment on election day, wishing him “get well soon”.