On independence from France in
1960, the land known as Middle Congo, became the People's Republic of Congo. As
with many of the other newly emerging African nations, politics were fraught
with internal conflict and instability. Following coups and
assassinations, Denis Sassou Nguesso become president of the country in 1979 and
aligned the Republic of Congo firmly with the then USSR, the People's Republic
of China and other communist states.
The Republic of Congo was then
ruled as a Marxist state. However as the economy crumbled and became increasing
infected by corruption, unrest swelled. In 1991 Sassou was stripped of his
executive powers by the National Conference and allowed to remain as ceremonial
head of state until elections could be called. Marxism was similarly abandoned.
In 1992 elections were called and won by Pascal Lissouba
with Sassou coming third. Lissouba was the first democratically elected
president of the Republic of Congo. Sassou remained as main opposition leader. Within a year Lissouba was accused of rigging the presidential election and
conflict had broke out, however was largely quashed with the intervention of
Gabon and the Organisation of African Unity. As the 1997 election approached
with both Sassou and Lissouba both standing, tensions erupted into civil war
with Angola invading the country in support of Sassou.
On 14th October Lissouba
fled the country and Sassou was restored to power and remains there to date,
despite controversial elections in 2002 and 2009. The situation in the Republic of
Congo is today in a state of flux with tentative steps towards re-establishing
some form of democracy becoming frequently derailed. The Congo is in 142nd place
out of 186 countries and territories in 2013 when ranked in terms of life
expectancy, literacy, access to knowledge and the living standards of a country
with a life expectancy of 57yrs with unemployment at over 50% and over two
thirds of its population living on under $1a day.