Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso has been chosen by his party to run again for the top job in 2021, having already led the central African country for a total of 35 years.

The editor of a Congolese satirical weekly critical of President Denis Sassou Nguesso was convicted Monday of libel and jailed for six months, a rights group said.

Raymond Malonga, 60, was also ordered to pay a fine of 30 million CFA francs (more than 45 000 euros), according to Tresor Nzila of the Congolese Human Rights Observatory (OCDH).

Family members and local journalists confirmed the ruling to AFP.

Malonga, editor of Sel-Piment (Salt and Spice), was found guilty of libelling Georgette Okemba, the wife of a close aide to Sassou Nguesso, after accusing her of diverting one billion CFA francs from state coffers.

Malonga was arrested in early February while receiving treatment in hospital.

His online weekly, known for stories critical of the government, was suspended early this year by the High Council for Freedom of Communication – led by a former minister from Sassou Nguesso’s PCT party.

Congo was ranked 118th out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders’ global Press Freedom Index last year.

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