Congo Republic election candidate says vote marred by fraud

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BRAZZAVILLE (Reuters) - A candidate in Congo Republic's presidential election said on Wednesday that the poll was an "electoral coup" marred by vote-rigging and that the courts should annul the result.

Provisional results on Tuesday showed that President Denis Sassou Nguesso was re-elected with more than 88% of Sunday's vote, extending his 36-year rule in the Central African country. [L8N2LL62D]

Mathias Dzon, who came third, said he will file an appeal with the constitutional court on Thursday asking that the election be annulled. He did not provide proof of fraud.

Spokespeople for the government, the electoral commission and the constitutional court did not respond to requests for comment.

At a news conference, Dzon described the election as "a disastrous vote, rigged and marred by countless irregularities".

"I laughed heartily, because for me it was a bad-taste joke," Dzon said, referring to the provisional results.

Dzon, a former finance minister, got 1.9% of the vote. Guy Brice Parfait Kolelas, who died hours after the polls closed, received less than 8%. Kolelas was being evacuated to France to be treated for COVID-19 when he died.

Dzon alleged that the government concealed the severity of Kolelas's illness before the vote to avoid a postponement in the polls, which is required by law when a candidate is incapacitated.

Diplomats and political analysts had expected an easy victory for Sassou, 77, who has a firm grip on state institutions in the country of 5.4 million.

The main opposition party boycotted the vote and two of Sassou's other main rivals were convicted of crimes after the last election in 2016, ruling them out.

(Reporting by Hereward Holland, writing by Bate Felix; editing by Edward McAllister, Larry King)