The Republic of the Congo under Denis Sassou Nguesso remains heavily dependent on oil and continues to be characterized by a personalistic ruling style centered on entrenched corruption and clientelism. With the president at the heart of these networks and with those closest to him benefiting exorbitantly from state revenues, even times of economic boom have witnessed little benefit for the wider population.

The government continues to place great emphasis on minimizing opposition, subjecting activists and opposition figures to reprisals such as violence, imprisonment, and torture.

The IMF, World Bank and civil society actors have vociferously pressured the government to pursue economic diversification and improved transparency in its extractive sectors, but no real progress has been made toward a market economy. A long-standing record of economic mismanagement and state-supported high-level corruption contributed to the government’s increasingly untenable indebtedness to China and other foreign creditors.

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