Assessment for Lari in the Rep. of the Congo
|Publisher||Minorities at Risk Project|
|Publication Date||31 December 2003|
|Cite as||Minorities at Risk Project, Assessment for Lari in the Rep. of the Congo, 31 December 2003, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/469f3ac3c.html [accessed 26 May 2015]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
The Lari have many of the conditions which puts them at risk for future militant activities. They are politically discriminated against; they are geographically concentrated; and they have a history of violent confrontations with the M¡¯Boshi. Due to the militant nature of politics in the Congo, political protests are unlikely. As long as the Lari are denied political opportunities by the M¡¯Boshi, a continuation of the civil war (which resumed in March 2002) is a more likely scenario.
The Republic of Congo is comprised of many ethnic groups, each geographically concentrated. The Lari are located in the southern region of the country (GROUPCON = 3) and have long shared the region with the Bakongo, Vili, Yombe, Bembe and others (TRADITN = 1). The Lari have historically been in political competition with the M'Boshi who are found in the northern region along with the Teke, the other large ethnic group in the Congo. While there are numerous groups in the Congo, they are very similar in appearance and beliefs (RACE = 0, BELIEF = 0). The Lari are only distinguishable through their language (LANG = 1). Despite the similarities, the larger ethnic groups have been in a struggle for control of the country since decolonization.
After decolonization political power was concentrated with the Lari, under presidents Abbe Fulbert Youlou and Alphonse Massemba-Debat. In 1992 a Northern coup changed the balance of power in the Congo; eventually elections were held in which a southerner, Pascal Lissouba was elected. A subsequent power struggle ensued. Three men, each supported by an ethnic group developed militias. The M¡¯Boshi were represented by the Cobras; the Bokongo formed the Cocoyes; and the Lari formed the Ninjas. In 1997 Denis Sassou Nguesso, a M¡¯Boshi gained power. Since this time, the Lari have faced considerable political discrimination, as Nguesso favors his own ethnic group within the government (POLDIS99 = 4, POLDIS03 = 3). Despite the political discrimination, the Lari are not economically discriminated against (ECDIS03 = 0). The civil war which was thought to have ended in 1998 lead to the displacement of almost 4/5th of the population of the capital Brazzaville (1/8th of the country population) and caused between 8-10 000 deaths.
The Lari¡¯s main grievance is clear: they want greater access to political opportunities. They have faced repression (most recently in 1999) at the hands of the M¡¯Boshi controlled government and they feel that only through greater political power can this be avoided. The political parties in the Congo are offshoots of the militias; therefore the Lari are only truly represented by the Ninjas. In 2002 the Ninjas became frustrated with the government and their promises of elections and resumed the civil war causing 10,000 people to flee the capital. Prior to the latest conflict, there was no reports of violence by the Ninjas since 1999 (REB99 = 7, REB03 = 4). Due to the militant nature of politics in the Congo, the Lari have tended to avoid political protests in attempting to influence the government (PROT99-03 = 0).