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NGO Global Witness 6 Aug accused President Sassou-Nguesso’s son Denis of embezzling more than $50mn from treasury.
President Sassou-Nguesso met Russian President Putin in Moscow 23 May and signed agreement to strengthen military cooperation including Russian training of Congolese troops and inspection of previously delivered Russian-made military equipment.
Govt late April lifted suspension of party led by Frédéric Bintsamou, known as Pasteur Ntumi, imposed in April 2016 when rebels led by Ntumi resumed attacks in Pool region; peace agreement signed in Dec 2017.
Following Dec 2017 ceasefire, leader of Ninjas rebel group Frederic Bintsamou, known as Pastor Ntumi, 22 Aug called on his followers to disarm. Disarmament officially launched 7 Aug, but yet to start.
Govt released at least 80 associates of rebel leader Pasteur Ntumi in capital Brazzaville 26 June as per Dec 2017 ceasefire agreement, most believed to be ex-combatants.
Court sentenced ex-army chief and former opposition presidential candidate Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko to twenty years in prison for violating state security and possessing weapons illegally 11 May. Court sentenced General Norbert Dabira to five years in prison for violating state security 19 May.
Follow-up committee for 23 Dec ceasefire agreement between govt and rebels led by Pasteur Ntumi submitted its recommendations to govt 22 Jan, including arms collection in Pool region in south, return of state authorities and that Ntumi should remain free.
Govt and representative of rebel group led by Pasteur Ntumi signed ceasefire agreement in Kinkala, Pool region in south 23 Dec to end fighting in Pool region. Ntumi “took note” of agreement 28 Dec but said that it did not take into account his “major concerns” and demanded creation of commission to “correct” text.
Govt mid-Nov released from prison figures close to armed opposition leader Pasteur Ntumi including his spokesperson and Jean-Gustave Ntondo, sec gen of National Council of Republicans, Ntumi’s party, after being detained for several months.
UN 8 June said almost 81,000 people have been displaced in Pool region in south since govt forces began operations against rebels loyal to Pasteur Ntumi mid-2016.
Security forces 17 March clashed with suspected Ninja militants in operation near Renéville village, Pool region, killing fifteen. Govt 18 March claimed group planned to carry out attacks along railway between capital Brazzaville and Pool.
Suspected Ninja militia attacked military vehicle early Dec in Mindouli district, Pool department, two people killed. UN 9 Dec said fighting in Pool had displaced 13,000 people since April, warned of risk of food shortages. Opposition coalition Initiative for Democracy in Congo and the Republican Front for the Respect of Constitutional Order (IDC-FROCAD) 13 Dec called for end of state of emergency in Pool. Three people killed in attempted prison break in Brazzaville 29 Dec.
Govt 4 Oct said over 4,000 people displaced by violence in Pool region in south, 5 Oct said Ninjas former militia killed twelve security force members and eleven civilians in last week of Sept in Pool.
Security forces and former members of Ninja militia clashed several times in Pool region: security forces raided Mayama night of 9-10 Sept in failed attempt to arrest Ninja leader Frederic Bintsamou aka. Pastor Ntumi, killing several people; former Ninjas 26 Sept attacked military base in Kimbedi, killing two officers and attacked bus and ambulance leaving Kinkala night of 28-29 Sept, killing three people including two soldiers.
Security forces 14 June arrested General Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko, opposition candidate in March 2016 presidential election; court 16 June charged him with violating state security and illegally possessing arms.
Following govt crackdown in southern Brazzaville opposition stronghold early April, police maintained heavy presence there during month, frequently detaining youths. Charles Bowao, leader of opposition platform Initiative for Democracy in Congo and the Republican Front for the Respect of Constitutional Order (IDC-FROCAD), 25 May called for political dialogue with govt and end of opposition leaders’ house arrest. FM 9 May demanded EU withdraw head of EU delegation following alleged persistent opposition to govt and “disdainful” behaviour; EU refused.
Govt crackdown on protests after disputed 20 March election escalated into gun battles and govt airstrikes. Since election police allegedly harassed and jailed residents of southern Brazzaville opposition stronghold; unidentified gunmen also exchanged fire with security forces 4 April, govt said former members of Ninja militia raided and torched military, police and govt offices, at least seventeen people killed including three police, about 50 people arrested. Constitutional court same day confirmed President Sassou-Nguesso’s re-election. Amnesty International 18 April said govt helicopters 5 April reportedly began dropping bombs on residential areas across south-eastern Pool region, stronghold of former Ninja militia, including at Vinza, Soumouna and Mayama reportedly killing at least 30 people. Govt said it was targeting military bases linked to Ninja militia leader Frederic Bintsamou a.k.a. Pastor Ntumi. Opposition coalition 5 April urged govt to stop “warlike operations”, called for peaceful civil disobedience. Sassou-Nguesso 23 April named one-time opposition leader and former Finance Minister Clement Mouamba as PM, who named govt 30 April.
Govt cracked down on opposition protests after President Sassou Nguesso won 20 March presidential election with 60% of vote; constitutional court to validate results. Govt 20-23 March shutdown telephone, internet and SMS services; opposition said communications blackout intended to prevent election monitoring. Police 20 March fired tear gas at activists protesting voting irregularities. Plainclothes police 23 March attacked one journalist from Le Monde, two from AFP, seized passports and equipment. Police 25 March prevented opposition announcing their own vote count, fired tear gas at supporters and arrested some ten opposition activists. Opposition candidates 26 March called for peaceful protests and national strike, strike widely observed 29 March. French President Hollande 26 Feb said elec- tions “not credible”.
Constitutional referendum to eliminate two-term presidential limit held 25 Oct following late-Sept referendum call by President Nguesso; some 92% voted in favour of constitutional amendment, with voter turnout reported at 72%. Opposition coalition Republican Front for the Respect of Constitutional Order and Democracy (FROCAD) 27 Oct rejected referendum results, disputed voter turnout rate, stating nearly all opposition supporters boycotted referendum. Referendum followed series of opposition protests and crackdown on opposition leaders: opposition FROCAD and Initiative for Democracy in Congo (IDC) leaders 18 Oct forbidden from leaving country following 17 Oct protests in Pointe Noire; six FROCAD leaders arrested 20 Oct during press conference amid intensifying violence in Brazzaville and Pointe Noire; former opposition Minister Guy Parfait Kolelas placed under house arrest 29 Oct. Authorities reported some four killed and several wounded throughout month in clashes between police and protesters; opposition leader 21 Oct alleged over twenty killed in protests; opposition gathered 30 Oct to commemorate those killed.
Incumbent President Nguesso won 78.6% of vote in calm presidential poll 12 July; boycotted by opposition as “neither free nor fair”. Govt claimed turnout 66%, independent local monitoring group estimated maximum 20%.
Signs of tension ahead of 12 July presidential elections. Constitutional Court 19 June barred 4 opposition candidates, including former PM Poungui, from contesting elections for failure to meet constitutional conditions on age and residency. Thousands rallied in Brazzaville to protest ruling 20 June; leader of main opposition party, Pascal Tsaty Mabiala, accused govt of failure to prepare for polls. President Nguesso will stand with 13 others.
Tension over rebel chief Frédéric Bitsangou’s (aka Pasteur Ntumi) September failure to take up government post continued. Hardliners in presidential circles reportedly preparing military offensive against him. President Sassou Nguesso set 31 December deadline for Ntumi and followers to disarm and assemble in Brazzaville.
Government forces and ex-Ninja rebels clashed when leader Frederic Bitsangou, due to begin role in charge of promotion of peace and post-conflict reconstruction, failed to appear in Brazzaville to fill post 10 September. Negotiations between Bitsangou and government continued despite unconfirmed reports of fatalities in clash.
President Denis Sassou Nguesso’s Parti Congolais du Travail won landslide in parliamentary elections: 124 of 135 seats.
First-round legislative election vote marred by delays, logistical problems and protests 24 June. 40 parties boycotted polls but main opposition participated. Second round vote 22 July.
April peace agreement between former rebel group Conseil National de Résistance (CNR) and government potentially destabilised as CNR criticised government’s decision to change post offered to leader Frédéric Bintsangou. President Nguesso stated CNR must disarm its militia and hand in weapons before it could be considered genuine political organisation.
African heads of state chose ROC as 2006 African Union chair following controversy over Sudan’s bid for leadership. Security situation in Pool region worsened due to spate of attacks by “Ninja” rebels, forcing Red Cross and Médecins Sans Frontières to suspend operations.
Former PM Kolelas, in exile since 1997, given amnesty for 2001 war crimes death sentence.
Clashes between security forces and former “Ninja” rebels killed at least 9 in Brazzaville’s Bacongo district. Fighting coincided with, but not connected to, visit by exiled former PM Bernard Kolelas.
Disarmament and reintegration program proceeding slowly – estimated 37,000 former fighters yet to be reintegrated, and some 42,000 small arms still in circulation.
Rival rebel militia factions exchanged gun and rocket fire in capital Brazzaville 13 and 18 December. Police announced 3 month crackdown on “trouble makers” in capital.
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