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Republic of Congo’s president, Denis Sassou Nguesso, leaves after a conference on Libya at the Elysee Palace, Paris, France, May 29, 2018 (AP photo by Francois Mori).

Is Sassou Nguesso Serious About Ending Congo’s Cycle of Crises?

Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019

It’s been a tense start to the year in Central Africa. The Democratic Republic of Congo appears to be barreling toward an election standoff, with defeated opposition candidate Martin Fayulu on Thursday denouncing “an electoral coup.” Also this week, renegade soldiers in Gabon attempted to oust President Ali Bongo, briefly taking over the state airwaves before they were arrested and two of them were killed.

Meanwhile, the Republic of Congo, which is sandwiched between those two countries, is quietly and tepidly moving ahead with a peace-building process designed to stave off just this kind of unrest. While one of the first steps in this process, a series of “dialogue platforms,” is focused on the southeastern Pool region—the site of a devastating but largely overlooked conflict that stretched from April 2016 until December 2017—it will offer clues as to whether the country as a whole can break with a cycle of crises that goes back decades. ...

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