(AGI) Brazzaville, Sept 23 - President of the Republic ofCongo, Denis Sassou Nguesso, on Wednesday announced areferendum on the country's new constitution. "I have decidedto directly give a voice to the people in order for them todecide on the draft law formulating the fundamental principlesof the Republic, defining the rights and duties of the citizensand establishing new forms of organisation and new rules offunctioning of the State," he said in a speech. However,many observers see this decision as an expression of theCongolese president's desire to change the constitution tointroduce a third term, currently not allowed. The presidentialelections should be held next year and a renomination forNguesso would mean a third term for a president who has ruledthe country for over 30 years. The announcement came aftermonths of "national dialogue", which decided to support theintroduction of a third term. However, the opposition boycottedthe dialogue. France, the former colonial power, hasappealed for a "credible, free and transparent vote, respectingthe rule of law and public freedom," said the presidentialspokesman. However, France has taken no position on the meritsof the president's announcement. (AGI). .