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Republic of Congo 1st Civil War

The era of the early 1990s was the symbolic dawn of the democratic process in the Congo and heralded a shift in the political process. The first (and arguably only) democratic elections in Congo came in 1992. The democratic honeymoon was short-lived as Lissouba turned his back on whatever purported agreement was made with Sassou (who came in third in the election), with a public renunciation of the alleged agreement as notes on a "sheet of paper." That episode created a political divide that would soon thrust the country into civil war in 1993.

In 1993 the contending parties went to war. Kolelas retreated to his main base of support in the Pool, Kinkala and Goma Tse Tse (which he represented in the National Assembly at the time of his death), prompted by an incident in which the Lissouba-controlled Army killed several protestors in a peaceful march of opposition supporters.

In 1993, Brazzaville was divided into three parts: Sassou-Nguesso controlled the Northern parts of the capital, Bernard Kolélas was in control of the South, and Lissouba held the centre of the city. During this time many people were killed, tortured and driven from their homes because they belonged to the “wrong” ethnic group.

Adding further insult, Lissouba's base of civilian supporters quickly moved to benefit from the shift in administration and took the streets in Brazzaville, physically and forcibly displacing Kolelas faithful from certain neighborhoods of Brazzaville. The new Lissouba administration failed to take any action. Retaliatory action by Kolelas supporters led to an escalation of intra-party ethnic atrocities and a more widespread civil conflict separated along tribal lines in the south, pitting predominantly Kongo and Lari tribes, behind Kolelas, and supporters of the so-called "Nibolek," (groups from Niyari, Bouenza, and Lekoumou departments in the south), as well as the Vili and Mbembe tribes, behind Lissouba.

Towards the end of the civil war, Kolelas' newly formed militia, the Ninjas, were alleged to have received aid from Sassou's own militia, the Cobras, joining forces against a common enemy, Lissouba.

Even after the civil was brought to an end, both entities employed covert efforts geared toward destabilizing the Lissouba government. Not to be outdone, Lissouba formed a protective circle of his own tribe with the Cocoyes. Though the present-day "Ninjas," who are responsible for increasing insecurity in the Pool region in recent weeks, bear the same name as Kolelas' militia, they are neither associated with, nor loyal to, what remains of his political party.

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Page last modified: 31-12-2016 19:43:37 ZULU