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Denis Sassou Nguesso


Denis Sassou Nguesso (born 1943) is a general and the president of the Republic of the Congo from 1979 to 1992 and from 1997 to date.

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Creer: 25th Feb 2008
Modifier: 14th Jul 2008
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A member of the Mbochi tribe, Sassou Nguesso was born in Edou in the Oyo district to the north of the country.

He joined the army in 1960 just before the country was granted independence. He received military training in Algeria and at Saint Maixent, France before returning to join the elite paratroop regiment. In 1970 Sassou Nguesso was made Director of Security and a minister in the new presidential council. When Ngouabi was assassinated Nguesso played a key role in maintaining control, and was rewarded with a promotion to colonel and the post of vice-president of the CMP Military Committee of the Party (CMP, Comité Militaire du Parti). After a coup which ousted Yhomby-Opango from power, Sassou Nguesso was chosen as the new president.

Denis Sassou-Nguesso began a seven-year term in March 2002 after winning presidential elections in which two of his main rivals - former President Pascal Lissouba and former Prime Minister Bernard Kolelas - were excluded by a residency law.

The vote followed a referendum on a new constitution which gave the president wide-ranging powers.

Denis Sassou-Nguesso first seized power in a coup in 1979, only to lose it in the country's first multi-party elections in 1992 which were won by Pascal Lissouba.

He returned to power in 1997 after a brief but bloody civil war in which he was backed by Angolan troops.

Mr Sassou-Nguesso is seen as a pragmatist. During his first presidency in 1979-92 he loosened the country's links with the Soviet bloc and gave French, US and other Western oil companies roles in oil exploration and production.

He abandoned the one-party system in 1992, making the ruling Congolese Workers Party (PCT) fight for its political life after more than 20 years as the sole party.

In 2006 he became chairman of the 53-nation African Union.

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Biographical Information
Denis Sassou Nguesso
(At a Glance)
  City: Brazzaville
Place of Origin: Congo-Brazzaville

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