Sassou’s Power Grab in Republic of Congo Could Reignite Violence

Sassou’s Power Grab in Republic of Congo Could Reignite Violence
Republic of Congo President Denis Sassou Nguesso addresses the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly, U.N. headquarters, New York, Sept. 26, 2014 (AP photo by Richard Drew).

On Tuesday, Denis Sassou-Nguesso, president of the Republic of Congo, removed two ministers who had recently opposed constitutional amendments he proposed to facilitate his candidacy for a third presidential term in 2016.

Sassou, as he is referred to in Congo, is among Africa’s longest-serving dictators and has held power almost continuously since his military appointment in 1979. After losing power in the country’s first multiparty elections in 1992, he emerged victorious in 1997—backed by Angolan troops—following a bloody civil war. He has retained power since. His push, then, to amend the constitution to extend his rule came as no surprise.

In May, Sassou launched a series of consultations on what he called “the life of the nation and the state,” which were boycotted by the majority of the opposition. Constitutional amendments on presidential candidates were a major component of these talks, which generated staunch criticism from the opposition and civil society. Sassou is seeking to remove the age ceiling for presidential candidates, currently set at 70, mandated in the 2002 constitution, and eliminate the two-term limit that would prevent him from running in 2016. Sassou is 71.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.