The Republic of Congo on Sunday headed into a presidential election boycotted by the main opposition and attacked by critics as tilted towards veteran leader Denis Sassou Nguesso.

The 77-year-old is widely expected to win against six contenders, led by economist and 2016 presidential runner-up Guy-Brice Parfait Kolelas, who revealed Saturday that he is gravely ill.

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. 

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