Freedom in the World
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Congo, Republic of (Brazzaville)
Freedom Rating (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Civil Liberties (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Political Rights (1 = best, 7 = worst)
As the Republic of Congo celebrated 50 years of independence in August 2010, opposition parties refused to participate in official ceremonies, highlighting the country’s continuing economic and human rights problems. During the year, the government announced initiatives to improve the rights and health of women and children, including adopting a new child protection framework. Meanwhile, a humanitarian crisis developed in the north following an influx of refugees fleeing violence in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Republic of Congo is not an electoral democracy. Irregularities, opposition boycotts and disqualifications, and the absence of an independent electoral commission marred recent elections. The 2002 constitution limits the president to two seven-year terms. However, current president Denis Sassou-Nguesso, who ruled from 1979 to 1992, has held office continuously since seizing power in 1997. The Senate, the upper house of Parliament, consists of 72 members, with councilors from each department electing six senators for six-year terms. Half of them come up for election every three years, although 42 seats were at stake in 2008. Members of the 137-seat National Assembly, the lower house, are directly elected for five-year terms. Most of the over 100 registered political parties are personality driven and ethnically based. The ruling RMP coalition faces a weak and fragmented opposition.