The Republic of Congo's government says the first round of presidential elections will be held March 20, 2016.

Minister of Communications Thierry Lezin Moungalla said Wednesday a national electoral committee has been created and a draft electoral law adopted.

Elections were originally anticipated to be July 2016. The opposition said it would participate in elections under certain conditions, including the formation of a truly independent election commission.

Voters in October approved constitutional changes that allow the country's longtime leader President Denis Sassou N'Guesso to seek another term. Sassou N'Guesso was president from 1979 until 1992, when he lost re-election. Five years later he returned to power and has been at the helm ever since.

Republic of Congo borders the enormous nation known as Congo.