President of the Republic of Congo, 1979–92, 1997– An officer in the Congolese army, he participated in various coups in the 1960s and early 1970s. In 1979, he became President himself, but he lost power in Congo's first democratic elections in 1992. Sassou-Nguesso never accepted this result, and gathered a growing army around him which engaged in civil war. He recaptured power in 1997, and in 2002 he organized elections in such a way that his victory was a certain outcome. Sassou-Nguesso was able to benefit from Congo's significant offshore oil reserves, which allowed him to prop up his power, even if it did not diminish poverty in his country. In 2006, he became head of the African Union for one year.
Subjects: African Studies — Contemporary History (Post 1945).