Republic of the Congo Government and Politics

The Republic of Congo is a unified republic, led by a president. The head of state, the president, is elected in the general election for five years and can be re-elected once. The President appoints the Prime Minister on a proposal from the government and the party that has a majority in parliament. The Government is responsible to the National Assembly. Parliament has two chambers, the National Assembly and the Senate, with 500 and 108 members, respectively. Both are elected for five years at a time. The voting age is 18 years. The members of the National Assembly are elected directly, while the senators are elected by the provincial assemblies.

Republic of Congo Country Flag

The Republic of Congo was given a new constitution in 2006, which replaced a temporary constitution from 2003.

Administrative division

According to the new constitution, the Republic of Congo is a unified state divided into 25 provinces and the metropolitan area. The scheme replaced the previous division into 11 regions, including the capital.


The legal system is characterized by Belgian models and different traditional customary law. Under the new constitution, the courts are independent of the other state apparatus, but the judges of the local magistrate’s courts are appointed by the president. The Magistrate’s Court is the first court in Congo. There are separate appeals courts for civil and military matters, and ultimately a Supreme Court (Cour de Cassation), a Constitutional Court and a Supreme Judicial Council. Among other things, the Justice Council proposes candidates for judicial positions both locally and nationally.

History and Politics

First residents and kingdoms

The first people to live in what is now the Republic of the Congo were pygmy peoples, especially the Bambuti. From the 10th century onwards, Bantu tribes immigrated to the area and settled it. They displaced the pygmies, who today only make up a very small part of the population.

In the 13th century, several kingdoms emerged in the territory of the Republic of the Congo, the DR Congo, and Angola. One of them was the Kingdom of the Congo. Most of it was in what is now Angola.

Portugal and the Kingdom of the Congo

Diogo Cão came to the mouth of the Congo River (which is south of the Republic of the Congo now in the DR Congo) in 1484. He was a Portuguese explorer and navigator. Soon there was brisk trade with the Bantu tribes. The Congo king Mwemba, who ruled from 1506, leaned closely to the Portuguese, adopted Christianity and even called himself Alfonso I. Slaves, copper and ivory were coveted goods in Europe and America. Soon the Kingdom of the Congo was economically dependent on Portugal.

When the Jaga people attacked the Congo Kingdom in 1569, Portugal helped the Congo. But this made the dependency even greater. The Congo now had to pay tribute to Portugal. More and more slaves were sold. Whole areas have been depopulated. Portugal also wanted access to the region’s copper deposits. Fighting broke out and Portugal finally took control of the country. The Kingdom of the Congo dissolved in the 18th century.

French colony

From 1877 onwards, Belgium and France competed for the areas on the Congo. Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza came to the area for France and founded the city of Brazzaville as a trading center in 1883. France signed a protection treaty with the Batéké empire. In 1891 the area was declared a French colony. It was called Central Congo from 1903 onwards. From 1910, it became part of French Equatorial Africa as the French Congo.

In contrast, the inland area, east of the Congo River, was awarded to King Leopold of Belgium at the Congo Conference in Berlin. The Belgian Congo colony then became Zaire in 1971 and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1997, today’s neighbor of the Republic of the Congo.

After the Second World War, the desire for independence increased. In 1946 the colony became a French overseas territory, that is, it still remained the territory of France. In 1958 it received internal self-government. The country gained independence on August 15, 1960, initially as the Congolese Republic. To distinguish the neighboring country, it was usually named after its capital Congo-Brazzaville.

From the republic to the people’s republic

The country’s first president was Fulbert Youlou. There were two major parties in the country, each supported by different ethnic groups. So there was always political unrest. In 1962, Youlou abolished democracy, there was only one unity party. In 1963, Youlou was overthrown in a coup.

Alphonse Massemba-Débat became president. Economically, he introduced elements of socialism. In 1968 he too was overthrown in a military coup.

After Alfred Raoul’s tenure of only three months, Marien Ngouabi became the new president at the end of 1968. Under him the Republic of the Congo became a people ‘s republic, a country with a socialist policy. At that time people leaned closely on the Soviet Union. In 1977 Ngouabi was murdered. His successor was Joachim Yhombi-Opango. He was deposed in 1979.

Denis Sassou-Nguesso has now become President. He stayed in office until 1992, that is 13 years. Politics remained socialist until the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Civil War and Sassou-Nguesso’s second and third terms in office

With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the lack of support from other socialist states, the country returned to the republic in 1991. Sassou-Nguesso lost the first free elections in 1992 and Pascal Lissouba became the new president. He was accused of manipulating the election and unrest broke out, which he suppressed with violence. Sassou-Nguesso went into exile, but returned in 1997 and expelled Lissouba.

But it also started a civil war. Sassou-Nguesso was supported by his Cobra militias and also by Angola and was finally victorious in December 1999. Many people died in this civil war.

Sassou-Nguesso had the constitution changed, extended the term of office and the limitation to one or then to two terms. He has been President of the Republic of the Congo since 1997. He ran again for the election in March 2016 and received 60 percent of the vote. Thus he was elected for a further term.

Republic Of The Congo Head of Government

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