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People's Republic of the Congo

On the last day of 1969, at the close of a three-day congress of the national political party, the National Revolutionary Movement (Mouvement National de la Revolution—MNR), President Marien Ngouabi proclaimed the country Africa's first People's Republic and announced the decision of the party to adopt a symbol somewhat similar to those common to Communist states — a red banner bearing a hammer and sickle—as the new national flag. The MNR was re-named the Congolese Labor Party (Parti Congolais du Travail — PCT) and was to be directed by a Politburo and a Central Committee.

On January 3, 1970, President Ngouabi, acting as head of state, officially promulgated a new Constitution adopted by the party congress on December 30. The Constitution of the People's Republic of the Congo (Republique Populaire du Congo) provided for a concentration of political power in the Central Committee of the PCT and in the Council of State, the executive organ of the government. Both of these bodies were under the leadership of President Ngouabi. There was no provision for a legislature in the Constitution. On January 3, 1970, three days after the proclamation of the country as the People's Republic of the Congo, the government resigned to make way for the formation of a new Council of State that was to serve as the country's governing body.

On the same date that the government resigned, President Ngouabi, acting as head of state, officially promulgated a new national Constitution adopted by the party congress on December 30. According to the new Constitution, the president of the PCT would also function as president of the Republic and head of state. He was to be a symbol of national unity and a monitor who would ensure respect for the Constitution and the correct functioning of public authorities. He was to be responsible for the continuity of the state and for guaranteeing national integrity, continuity of government, and respect for international agreements. There was no mention of the president's eligibility for reappointment at the end of his specified five-year term.

The party's youth organization, with a widespread and militant membership, represented a potent force in national politics. In September 1968 President Ngouabi, acting in his capacity as chairman of the CNR, issued an order creating committees for the defense of the revolution in rural areas and towns. The geographical boundaries of these committees coincided with those of the administrative districts in the rural areas and of the party branches in the towns. Each committee was assigned as its immediate tasks the reorganization and revitalization of the party, the propagation of the CNR's directive among the masses, and the establishment of regional committees for the defense of the revolution.

Membership in the local committees was open to proven party militants who had the confidence of the local population. Each committee was made up of nine members, including the chairman. Government commissioners, district chiefs, village chiefs, and mayors were designated as the organizers of the committees for their respective areas. All party militants were called upon to show their loyalty to the CNR leadership by helping to establish local committees. With the transformation of the MNR into the PCT in January 1970, the committee organizations were incorporated into the structure of the new party.

Objectives of the government were broadly expressed in terms of "scientific socialism," although there were varying interpretations within the country as to the modes of applying this doctrine. Although some elements openly pressed for a program of rapid assumption of control of all facets of the economy, the government, as of early 1970, had avoided a policy of nationalization.

Internal policy was oriented toward the search for solutions to domestic problems, particularly the difficult problems of national unity and economic development. Foreign policy was carried out with an awareness of the need for foreign economic and technical aid. The country's leaders described foreign policy as one of non-alignment but, since the assumption of power by President Alphonse Massamba-Debat in 1963, the government had progressively moved to align its policy with that of the major Communist states.

The Constitution provided that the president, on the proposal of the party Central Committee, would nominate the vice president of the Council of State and could terminate his function on the advice of the Central Committee. The president was to nominate or dismiss the other members of the Council of State on the proposal of the vice president.

According to the Constitution of 1970, the president would assume his functions by being sworn in before the party Central Committee, with this oath: "I swear to be loyal to the Congolese people, to the revolution, and to the Congolese Labor Party. I commit myself, in following the principles of Marxism-Leninism, to defend the statutes of the party and the constitution, to devote all my strength to insuring the triumph of the proletarian ideals of the Congolese people in an atmosphere of work, democracy, and peace."

On January 2 the PCT announced that Ngouabi would be head of the Central Committee and of the Politburo, as well as chief of the party. The Politburo was composed of seven members, including Major Raoul, who was named second secretary. The Central Committee was composed of thirty regular members, with ten alternates. Two women, the only ones named to political office, were included on the list of alternates. Several of the members of the Politburo and the Central Committee also served on the Council of State.

On January 4 the PCT Central Committee announced the composition of the Council of State. Major Ngouabi was named president, and Major Raoul became vice president of the Council of State. Raoul was also given charge of planning and the administration of the territory. Other ministries listed were : Ministry of Information, in charge of propaganda, culture, and people's education; Ministry of Equipment, in charge of agriculture, waters, and forests; Ministry of Justice, Labor and Keeper of the Seals; Ministry of National Education; Ministry of Public Health and Social Affairs; Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Mines; and Ministry of Finance and Budget.

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