Congo

Congo

Congo Present-day Republic of Congo (also called Congo-Brazzaville and the Congo) was known as Middle Congo during colonial times. The country gained independence from France in 1960, upon which decades of turbulent politics followed. The country was ruled by a string of presidents, some military and some civilian, all with the common denominator that they seized power through unconstitutional means. In 1964, the Marxist-Leninist MNR (Mouvement national de la révolution, National Revolutionary Movement) was formed as the country's sole legal party. In 1968 a new Marxist- Leninist party was established, the PCT (Parti Congolais du Travail, Congolese Labour Party), replacing MNR. PCT came to dominate the political life of the country until the early 1990s, when a democratisation process was initiated.

The main ethnic groups in the country are the Bacongo, the Batéké, the M'Bochi, and the Sangha. Within most of these groups there are numerous sub-groups. After the initiation of the democratisation process, ethnicity came to play an important role in the country, as elites sought to mobilize their ethnic constituencies to gain political power. In effect, this also led to the outbreak of an intrastate armed conflict in 1993. In the wake of the 1992-93 legislative and presidential elections, which awarded victory to Pascal Lissouba and his party UPADS (Union Panafricaine pour la Démocratie Sociale, the Pan-African Union for Social Democracy), the political elites plunged the country into three phases of subsequent intrastate conflict - 1993-94, 1997-99 and 2002 - as they competed for control over the government. To make credible claims to power, the three main parties mobilised youths from their respective ethnic constituency into armed militias - the Cobras (PCT), the Cocoyes (UPADS) and the Ninjas (MCDDI: Mouvement congolais pour la démocratie et le développement intégral, the Congolese Movement for Democracy and Integral Development). During the conflict both the government and the opposition side made use of one-sided violence.

PCT leader Denis Sassou-Nguessou, who had ruled the country from 1979 to 1992, was able to ascend to power once more in 1997, when his Cobra militia with the help of troops from Angola overthrew the government of Lissouba. PCT subsequently maintained its hold on power well into the 2000s.

Since 1946 the Republic of Congo has experienced the intrastate and one-sided categories of UCDP organised violence.