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Minorities At Risk Project: Home    

Assessment for M'boshi in the Rep. of the Congo

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Rep. of the Congo Facts
Area:    342,000 sq. km.
Capital:    Brazzaville
Total Population:    2,658,000 (source: U.S. Census Bureau, 1998, est.)

Risk Assessment | Analytic Summary | References

Risk Assessment

The M'Boshi currently enjoy the support of the government. Unfortunately, that support comes at others’ expense, mainly southern ethnic groups such as the Lari. As recent violent episodes by the Lari-supported Ninja militia illustrate, the M'Boshi are in danger of attack, and their privileged position could be taken away at any point.

While the M'boshi do exhibit a factor contributing to the risk of rebellion, territorial concentration, rebellion seems unlikely do to their favored status in politics currently. Furthermore, while the President remains from the M'boshi ethnic group it is extremely unlikely that the group will become involved in rebellious activity or in protests as the M'boshi lack some factors placing them at risk including recent repression, political and cultural restrictions. Despite one recent instance in which group members demanded to be paid, the M'boshi do not have a recent history of persistent protest. If President Sassou Nguesso is forced from office by the Lari or other ethnic groups, then the M'Boshi may revert once again to militant actions to try to regain power.


Analytic Summary

The Republic of Congo is comprised of many ethnic groups, each geographically concentrated. The M'Boshi comprise approximately 12% of the total population and are found in the northern Cuvette, Cuvette Ouest and Plateaux regions (GROUPCON = 3), where they have been prior to colonization. There are few noticeable differences between the M'Boshi and the other large ethnic groups in the country (such as the Lari in the south). The only distinguishable characteristics are their language and a patrilineal heritage unlike the Kongo or Teke (LANG = 1, RACE = 0, CUSTOM = 1 and BELIEF = 0). While there are few differences, the M'Boshi and the Lari have struggled for control of the country since de-colonization.

During the early 1990s the Lari were in control of the government, and during that time, the M'Boshi became excluded from the political process. Armed conflict erupted as three men, each supported by their ethnic group fought for control of the country. Elections were marred by violence, and eventually all three leaders (including M'Boshi Denis Sassou Nguesso) turned to militias to attempt to consolidate control. In 1997 Sassou Nguesso and his militia (known as the Cobras) gained power. Since that point, the M'Boshi have enjoyed a privileged place in Congo politics. As a result they currently do not face any political, economic, or cultural restrictions (POLDIS06 = 0, ECDIS06 = 0, CULP01 = 0, CULP02 = 0). The civil war did lead to the displacement of nearly four-fifths of the population of Brazzaville, and caused between 8,000 and 10,000 deaths, but had ended by late 1998 to early 1999. Tensions flared again in 2002, but due to a peace agreement made with Ntumi, who led the Lari-dominated Ninja militia in 2003, fighting has again been reduced. Due to the support of the president, the M'Boshi also do not face any form of government repression or coercion.

As mentioned, the M'Boshi are represented by the President, Sassou Nguesso, and his militia, the Cobras. Sassou Nguesso’s party is the Congolese Labour Party (PCT). Due to their advantaged position, the M'Boshi have only one concern, protection from the other ethnic groups currently denied access to power. Of these groups, the biggest concern are the Lari. While the Lari and their militia, the Ninjas, have focused their attention on the government, their actions do impact the citizens. In June 2002, the Ninjas, frustrated with the government, resumed fighting after a 4-year break, causing nearly 10,000 people to flee the capital. The Ninja militants also impact the citizens due to attacks and looting of both passenger and cargo trains passing through Brazzaville to the Pointe Noire, which have adversely affected the Congo’s economy. There has been only one recent report of protest by the M'Boshi (PROT05 = 3). There are no current reports of rebellion carried out by the group, but the M'boshi were involved in large-scale rebellions prior to decolonization (REB45X = 7). This activity re-emerged in the late 1970s (REB75X = 7) and throughout the 1990s (e.g,. REB94 = 7).



CIA World Factbook. Congo, Republic of the. 12 Feb. 2008.

LexisNexis, various articles (French and English): 2004-2006.

McDonald, Gordon C., et al. Area Handbook for People’s Republic of the Congo (Congo Brazzaville). Library of Congress: Washington, DC., 1971.

United States Department of State. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Congo, Republic of. 2004-2006.


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Information current as of December 31, 2006