Forgotten World (207): Republic of the Congo

The Republic of the Congo is not to be confused with the neighbouring and larger Democratic Republic of the Congo. This Congo is sometimes known Congo-Brazzaville (after its capital) and has a population of only 3.7 million (compared to around 70 million in the DR Congo).

After three coup-ridden but relatively peaceful decades of independence, the former French colony experienced the first of two destructive bouts of fighting when disputed parliamentary elections in 1993 led to bloody, ethnically-based fighting between pro-government forces and the opposition.

Following a ceasefire,  in 1997 ethnic and political tensions exploded into a full-scale civil war, fuelled in part by the prize of the country’s offshore oil wealth, which motivated many of the warlords. By the end of 1999 the rebels had lost all their key positions to the government forces, who were backed by Angolan troops. The rebels then agreed to a ceasefire, but remnants of the civil war militias, known as Ninjas, are still active in the southern Pool region.


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