History of the Congo
The history of modern Congo originates from three state formations: Loango, Makongo (or Tio, Teke, Anzika) and Kongo, which arose in the Congo River basin in the 10th-13th centuries. By the time the Europeans (Portuguese) penetrated here in 1482, it was at the height of its power. However, from Ser. 16th century the gradual weakening of the state and its disintegration begins. The development of the slave trade led to the devastation and depopulation of this area: in the 16th-19th centuries. OK. 1.5 million people was taken into slavery. To the beginning 19th century Kongo was a small principality. French penetration dates back to the 1870s, and from 1880 the Congo became a French colony. Only 80 years later, on August 15, 1960, the political independence of the country was proclaimed. The pro-Western government that came to power, headed by Abbot F. Yulu, was overthrown in August 1963. Created in July 1964, the National Revolutionary Movement party proclaimed a policy of non-capitalist development of the country, which the Congo followed for more than 25 years. From August 1968 to January 1970, power was exercised by the National Council of the Revolution, headed by M. Nguabi (president of the country in 1969–77). In December 1969, the Congolese Party of Labor (CPT) was established, the ruling and sole party in the country. After Nguabi’s assassination in March 1977, until February 1979, the country was led by the Party’s Military Committee, headed by J. Yombi-Opango. In March 1979, D. Sassou-Nguesso became chairman of the CPT and president of the Congo, who retained this post until 1992. Since 1991, a multi-party system has been introduced in the country. In February-July 1991, the 1st National Conference was held, which marked the beginning of political reforms in the Congo. In 1992, the first presidential and parliamentary elections were held on a multi-party basis, which were won by the Pan-African Union for Social Democracy and its leader P. Lissouba. In the 1990s the country experienced two civil wars: in June 1993 – January 1994 against the backdrop of political disagreements following the results of parliamentary elections between the ruling party and the opposition; in June-October 1997, on the eve of the presidential elections, Lissuba’s decision to disarm the opposition groups provoked resistance from his opponents and the start of armed operations. In October 1997, the supporters of Sassou Nguesso won, who again became President of the Congo on October 25. In January 1998, a Forum for National Reconciliation and Unity was held, which established a three-year transitional period to stabilize the situation in the country. However, armed clashes between government troops and armed opposition groups continued until November 1999. At the 2nd National Conference (April 2001), the Peace Convention was adopted, where all political organizations refused to use armed means in resolving controversial issues. In January 2001, a nationwide referendum approved the new Constitution. Presidential elections were held in March 2002, and parliamentary elections were held in May-June. Sassou Nguesso retained the presidency. The results of the elections again became the reason for the intensification of anti-government activities of the opposition and the destabilization of the situation in the country.
State structure and political system of the Congo
The Congo, in accordance with the Constitution approved by referendum on January 20, 2002, is a republic with a presidential form of government, where legislative power belongs to a bicameral parliament, and executive power belongs to the president and government. The head of state – the president – is elected by universal direct and secret suffrage for a period of 7 years and can be re-elected one more time. The Parliament consists of the National Assembly (137 deputies elected by direct and secret universal suffrage for 5 years) and the Senate (66 senators with a mandate term of 6 years are elected in indirect general elections, the composition of the Senate is renewed by half every 3 years). Check cancermatters for political system of Republic of the Congo.
On March 10, 2002, Sassou Nguesso was elected president of the Congo, who held this post in 1979–92 and returned to power in 1997 as a result of the civil war. The National Assembly, formed following the elections of May 26 and June 23, 2002, is headed by J.-P. Chister-Chikaya, Senate – A.-E. Numazalai. The government is headed by the President.
Administrative division: 10 regions, 76 districts and 7 communes, which declared the cities of Brazzaville, Pointe-Noire, Dolizi, Nkayi, Owando, Mosenjo, Veso. More than 62% of the country’s population lives in cities, incl. 80% – in Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire.
By 2003, there were more than 150 political parties in the Congo, of which approx. 40 are visible in the political arena: Democratic and patriotic forces led by Sassou Nguesso (unite 6 parties: the Congolese Labor Party, the Convention for a Democratic Alternative, the Liberal Republican Party, the National Union for Democracy and Progress, the Patriotic Union for National Restructuring, the Union for National Renewal) and the Movement for Unity and Restructuring (3 parties: Movement for Democracy and Solidarity, United for Democracy and Social Progress, Union for the Republic).
The leading positions in the trade union movement of the Congo are occupied by: the Congolese Trade Union Confederation (founded in 1964, unites 80 thousand members), the General Confederation of Workers of the Congo (established in 1995), the National Confederation of Free Trade Unions (established in 1994), the Trade Union Confederation of Congolese Workers (established in 1993, unites 40 thousand members) and the Confederation of Free and Autonomous Trade Unions of the Congo.
Armed Forces: Ground Forces – 10 thousand people, Air Force – 1.2 thousand people, Navy – 800 people, National Police – 5 thousand people.
The Republic of the Congo has diplomatic relations with the Russian Federation (established with the USSR on March 16, 1964).
Economy of the Congo
GDP $2.5 billion, or $770 per capita (2002). The average annual GDP growth rate is 4.6% (2000-02). Inflation 3% (2002). Share in GDP (2002,%): agriculture – 10, industry – 48, services – 42. The economically active population is approx. 40% of the country’s population. External debt of 5 billion US dollars, deductions on account of its repayment of 3.7% of the country’s export earnings (2002).
The Congolese economy is based on the development of oil fields, harvesting and processing of timber (over 4 million m3, 2002, estimate). The Congo ranks 3rd among the countries of Tropical Africa in terms of oil production (15 million tons, 2002) and has the largest reserves of valuable species of wood in West Africa.
The natural conditions of the Congo are favorable for agriculture, which employs 1/3 of the economically active population. Cultivated (2002, estimate) cassava (790 thousand tons), sweet potato (25 thousand tons), yams (13 thousand tons), taro, corn (22 thousand tons), rice (1 thousand tons), sugar cane (460 thousand tons), peanuts (28 thousand tons), oil palm, hevea, tobacco, coffee (2 thousand tons) and cocoa (2 thousand tons). Pig breeding (59 thousand heads) and raising of sheep and goats (420 thousand heads) are ubiquitous. The breeding of cattle (70,000 heads) is limited to areas where the tsetse fly, which is fatal to cows and horses, is not widespread.
In the Congo, rail, river, road, sea and air transport have been developed. In the railway network with a length of 1040 km (main – 894 km, auxiliary – 146 km), the Congo-Ocean line connecting Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire is of particular importance. Roads – 12,800 km, incl. with hard surface 3 thousand km. Navigation routes along the Congo River and its tributaries – approx. 2.5 thousand km. There are 6 river ports. The seaport of Pointe-Noire is of subregional importance: from 9 to 10 million tons of cargo are handled here annually, approx. 70% of the cargo turnover falls on transit traffic. There are 33 airfields, 2 of which are of international class. An oil pipeline was laid – 25 km.
Foreign trade (in 2002): export – 2.6 billion US dollars, import – 725 million US dollars. The main export items are oil (90%), timber; imports – machinery, equipment, vehicles, food. Leading trading partners: in terms of exports – the United States (20.9%), South Korea (15.5%), China (6.7%), Germany (3.2%); imports – France (20.5%), USA (9.8%), Italy (7.5%), Belgium (3.8%).