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Denis Sassou Nguesso
Denis Sassou Nguesso 2014.jpg
Sassou Nguesso in 2014
5th President of the Republic of the Congo
Assumed office
25 October 1997
Prime Minister Isidore Mvouba
Clément Mouamba
Anatole Collinet Makosso
Preceded by Pascal Lissouba
In office
8 February 1979 – 31 August 1992
Prime Minister Louis Sylvain Goma
Ange Édouard Poungui
Alphonse Poaty-Souchlaty
Pierre Moussa
Louis Sylvain Goma
André Milongo
Preceded by Jean-Pierre Thystère Tchicaya (Acting)
Succeeded by Pascal Lissouba
Personal details
Born (1943-11-23) 23 November 1943 (age 79)
Edou, French Equatorial Africa (now Congo-Brazzaville)
Political party Congolese Party of Labour (1969–present)
Antoinette Sassou Nguesso
(m. 1969)
Military service
Allegiance Republic of the Congo
Rank General

Denis Sassou Nguesso (born 23 November 1943) is a Congolese politician and former military leader. He became president of the Republic of the Congo in 1997. He served a previous term as president from 1979 to 1992. During his first period as president, he headed the Congolese Party of Labour (PCT) for 12 years. He introduced multiparty politics in 1990, but was stripped of executive powers by the 1991 National Conference, remaining in office as a ceremonial head of state. He stood as a candidate in the 1992 presidential election but placed third.

Sassou Nguesso was an opposition leader for five years before returning to power during the Second Republic of the Congo Civil War, in which his rebel forces ousted President Pascal Lissouba. Following a transitional period, he won the 2002 presidential election, which involved low opposition participation. He was re-elected in the 2009 presidential election. The introduction of a new constitution, passed by referendum in 2015 amidst calls for boycott then a dismissal of results by opposition leaders, enabled Sassou Nguesso to stand for another term. He was re-elected in the 2016 presidential election with a majority in the first round.

Early life

A member of the Mbochi tribe, Sassou Nguesso was born in Edou in the Oyo district in northern Congo in 1943. His parents are Julien Nguesso and Émilienne Mouebara. Nguesso was the youngest child in the family. His father was a notable hunter chief in Edou. He received primary education in Fort Rousset, now Owando. He studied in Dolisie Normal College between 1956 and 1960.

Military career

He joined the army in 1960 just before the country was granted independence. He received military training in Algeria. In 1962, he returned to Congo and was reassigned to active duty with the rank of second lieutenant. A year later, he joined the Application School for Infantry, at Saint-Maixent-l'École, France whence he graduated with the rank of lieutenant. He returned to join Congo's elite paratroop regiment. He was one of the first officers of the Airborne Group, the first paratroop battalion of the Congolese Army, which was created by Marien Ngouabi in 1965. He commanded the Airborne Group, the army and the Brazzaville Military Zone (ZAB), then headed the Intelligence department of the State Security Services. He became captain, then commander, and was promoted to colonel (1978) and later as army general (1989).

African Union and the Libyan crisis

As the Chairman of the African Union High Level Committee on Libya, Sassou Nguesso stated, "The settlement of the Libyan crisis appears, more than ever, as an absolute urgency", especially because of the possible negative impact of terrorist groups in the south of Libya on neighboring states.

He declared "this crisis remains, before any other consideration, an African problem."

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