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Congo’s economy improved in 1982 – partly due to oil exports, which financed 49.44% of public spending.
The oil was mined in collaboration with French, North American and Italian companies and together they exported around 8 million tonnes of crude oil. (1988).
President N’Guesso built a pragmatic political line with regard to abroad; economic relations with Eastern Europe, the US and France were maintained. Congo played a key role in the negotiations between Angola, South Africa and Cuba, and the agreement signed on December 13, 1988 in Brazzaville allowed Namibia’s independence.
The fall of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet perestroika warned of political and social change. In December 1990, the country switched to the multiparty system. In July 1991, André Milongo assumed the post of prime minister until the presidential election could take place.
This decision led to street riots and it was agreed to form a transitional government with the participation of the army. In the accelerated elections in May 1993, the ruling party gained 62 seats against the opposition’s 49. The opposition accused the government of electoral fraud, and new clashes between protesters and soldiers left 6 dead.
Lissouba appointed retired military man Jaques Yhombi-Opango as new prime minister, prompting the opposition to form a “shadow cabinet” led by Bernard Kolelas. New riots in July and December led to the killing of 80 people. On the other hand, the government continued its course against bankruptcy and in 1993 only paid the public servants 7 of 12 monthly salaries.
In January 1994, the army resorted to the use of artillery to defend itself against the armed opposition groups. The riots cost more than 100 people their lives. An agreement between the opposition and the government, concluded in mid-March, formed the framework for a ceasefire. Later, in July, the election of Kolelas as mayor of Brazzaville was instrumental in dampening the mutiny and a public “fraternity ceremony” was held the following month.
In the same year, Lissouba accepted a structural adjustment program recommended by the IMF. meant redundancies among public servants. Competition between the multinational oil companies that threatened the French ELF’s position in the Congo forced the French company to accept an increase in the sum it would invest in the Congo from 17% to 31% of its profits.
1995 was a year marked by the attempt to find a permanent agreement to secure the disarmament of the government hostile building guerrillas and possibly try to get them integrated into the national army. On February 19, a general strike began with the demand for payment of the wages withheld. On March 10, a solution was reached, but the plan was rejected by civil servants because it announced a reduction in wages against a corresponding reduction in working hours.
The first fighting broke out in June 1997 when authorities attempted to disarm and arrest Denis Sassou N’Guesso and some of his supporters. After 4 months of civil war, the rebel forces ousted President Lissouba, with the support of Angolan troops. In many cases, the fighting led to looting against the local population. N’Guesso formed a new government in Brazzaville and immediately proceeded to fight the uprising led by Kolelas.
Brazzaville and Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of the Congo) began talks in January 1998 to clarify the boundary line along the 2,410 km common border. During the year, N’Guesso reinforced his army with weapons purchased from the Russian mafia and appointed Israeli officers to lead his personal security guard.