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

Publisher Minorities at Risk Project
Publication Date 31 December 2003
Cite as Minorities at Risk Project, Assessment for M'boshi in the Rep. of the Congo, 31 December 2003, available at: [accessed 1 March 2015]
DisclaimerThis 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.
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 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 President remains from their ethnic group it is extremely unlikely that the group will become involved in either protests or any form of rebellious activity. 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 11% of the total population and are found in the north (GROUPCON = 3), where they have been prior to colonization (TRADITN = 1). There are few noticeable difference between the M'Boshi and the other large ethnic groups in the country (such as the Lari in the south). The only distinguishable characteristic is their language (LANG = 1, RACE = 0, CUSTOM = 0 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 a 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 (POLDIS03 = 0, ECDIS03 = 0). The civil war did lead to the displacement of nearly 4/5ths of the population of Brazzaville, and caused 8-10 000 deaths, but had ended by late 1998, early 1999 (DEMSTR03 = 0). 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. 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 is the Lari. While the Lari and its 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. There have been no reports of protests by the M'Boshi (PROT03 = 0), but they 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 (eg. REB94 = 7).



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