Alphonse Massamba-Débat

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Alphonse Massamba-Débat
Alphonse Massamba-Debat.png
Massamba-Débat in 1968
2nd President of the Republic of the Congo
In office
16 August 1963 – 4 September 1968
Preceded byFulbert Youlou
Succeeded byAlfred Raoul
1st Prime Minister of the Republic of the Congo
In office
16 August 1963 – 19 December 1963
Succeeded byPascal Lissouba
Presidents of the National Assembly of Congo[1]
In office
1 July 1959 – 1961
Preceded byChristian Jayle
Succeeded byMarcel Ibalico
Personal details
Born11 February 1921
Nkolo, French Equatorial Africa
Died25 March 1977 (aged 56)
Brazzaville, People's Republic of the Congo
Cause of deathExecuted by Shooting
Political partyNational Movement of the Revolution
Chadian Progressive Party
Spouse(s)Marie Massamba-Debat

Alphonse Massamba-Débat (February 11, 1921 – March 25, 1977) was a political figure of the Republic of the Congo who led the country from 1963 until 1968 in a one-party system.


Early life[edit]

He was born in the small village of Nkolo, Boko District, French Equatorial Africa, in 1921,[2] into a Kongo family and was of Lari ethnicity. He attended missionary school and primary schooling at the Boko Regional School. He then received training as a teacher at the Edouard Renard school in Brazzaville.[3] By the age of 13, he was a teacher and went to teach in Chad from 1945 to 1948.[3][2] By 1940, he had joined the anti-colonialist Chadian Progressive Party and served as the general secretary of the Association for the Development of Chad in 1945.[4] In 1947, he moved back to Congo and was principal of a school in Mossendjo from 1948 to 1953, then in Mindouli from 1953 to 1956. He was also the headmaster of Bakongo Secular School in Brazzaville in 1957[3][2] and joined the Congolese Progressive Party (PPC).[4]


By 1957, Massamba-Débat had joined Fulbert Youlou's Democratic Union for the Defense of African Interests party (UDDIA), stopped teaching and became the Minister of Education and two years later he was elected to national assembly. In 1959, he was made president of the assembly and remained in power, later serving as minister of state and of planning but he began to criticize the administration of Congo's first president, Fulbert Youlou, whom many perceived to be overly reliant on France.

When the President of the Republic of the Congo, Fulbert Youlou, was deposed in a coup d'état on August 15, 1963, the presidency was suspended. Massamba-Débat, Chairman of the National Council of the Revolution, was declared Prime Minister the next day, and the National Council of the Revolution was declared the only legal political party in the country. Massamba-Débat was elected President on December 19, 1963, with Pascal Lissouba standing in as the new Prime Minister.

Congo under Massamba-Débat (1963-1968)[edit]

Massamba-Débat meeting with Mao Zedong in 1964.
Massamba-Débat meeting with Romania's Nicolae Ceaușescu, 1968

The government of Massamba-Débat attempted to undertake a political economic strategy of "scientific socialism." By July 1964 Massamba-Débat's government had declared one-party rule under the National Movement of the Revolution[5] and a campaign of nationalizations began. Internationally Massamba-Débat aligned his country with the USSR and Communist China and he allowed nominally communist guerrillas to base themselves on Congolese territory.[6]

Under Massamba-Debat the Congo was ideologically aligned more with countries of a socialist nature, especially Cuba and China, while moving away from capitalist countries. Che Guevara went to meet Massamba-Débat in January 1965 and diplomatic relations were severed with the United States. Relations were strained with the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo, whose political path was increasingly influenced by Mobutist ambitions. Consequently, the Tshombe government expelled the citizens of Congo-Brazzaville who lived in the former Belgian Congo.

The culmination of this atmosphere of "terror" was the kidnapping and murder in February 1965 of three judicial personalities whose positions were not to the liking of the regime, the president of the Supreme Court Joseph Pouabou, the prosecutor Lazare Matsocota and the director of the Congolese Information Agency Anselme Massoueme.

Massamba-Débat also attempted to form popular militia units in 1966 with the help of the Cuban army.[7] For 10 days in June and July 1966, members of the military attempted to overthrow his government after he had attempted to place the military under a single command. In the failed coup attempt, several hundred Cuban troops sheltered members of Massamba-Débat's government and he was eventually able to return to power after giving in to some of the coup leaders demands.[7]

On August 5, 1968, the new National Council of the Revolution (CNR) was formed, along with a new government, with 40 members including Massamba-Débat.[3]

In July 1968, he arrested Captain Ngouabi, dissolved the National Assembly and the Political Bureau of the MNR and suspended the 1963 Constitution. This resulted in a confrontation between supporters of the Civil Defense and part of the army. He was then forced to amnesty all political prisoners and deal with his opponents.[3] Following the coup tensions remained between Massamba-Débat's administration and the military and on September 4, 1968 Massamba-Débat's government was overthrown by Marien Ngouabi, the chairman of the same party that had brought Massamba-Débat to power.[6]

Life under house arrest[edit]

Following the bloodless coup of 1968 Massamba-Débat was forced to leave politics and Massamba-Débat returned to his home town. A few hours after Ngouabi's assassination Massamba-Débat was placed under arrest.[3] When Ngouabi was murdered in 1977, many people were arrested and tried for plotting the assassination, including Massamba-Débat. Massamba-Débat was executed on the night of March 25, 1977, by firing squad.[3][6][8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Moukoko, Philippe (16 January 2019). Dictionnaire général du Congo-Brazzaville 2e édition: Alphabétique, analytique et critique avec des annexes cartographiques et un tableau chronologique. Editions L'Harmattan. ISBN 9782140110849.
  2. ^ a b c "Marien Ngouabi : Les petits secrets d'un odieux assassinat…" (in French). DAC Presse. 18 March 2012. Archived from the original on 27 August 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Liste des présidents de la République du Congo Brazzaville" (in French). Consulate General of Congo in Tunis. 17 August 2014.
  4. ^ a b "Database Search, Massamba-Débat, Alphonse". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2015-09-10.
  5. ^ "Alphonse Massamba-Debat - biography - president of Republic of the Congo". Encyclopædia Britannica.
  6. ^ a b c "History Database Search, Massamba-Débat, Alphonse". Archived from the original on 2015-07-22. Retrieved 2014-05-05.
  7. ^ a b Gleijeses, Piero (2002). Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959-1976. University of North Carolina Press. pp. 169–172. ISBN 0-8078-5464-6.
  8. ^ "The Sydney Morning Herald - Google News Archive Search".

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Fulbert Youlou
post abolished, 1959–1963
Prime Minister of the Republic of the Congo
Succeeded by
Preceded by President of the Republic of the Congo
Succeeded by