Jean-Pierre Thystère Tchicaya
Jean-Pierre Thystère Tchicaya (January 7, 1936 – June 20, 2008) was a Congolese politician. He was briefly acting head of state of the Republic of the Congo in February 1979 and was president of the National Assembly of the Republic of the Congo from 2002 to 2007. He also led a political party, the Rally for Democracy and Social Progress (RDPS), from 1990 to 2008.
Political career under single-party rule
Tchicaya, a founding member of the Congolese Labour Party (PCT), became Minister of Vocational and Technical Education in December 1971, and in August 1973 his portfolio was expanded to include higher education; he held that post until December 1974. Also during that period, he temporarily assumed responsibility for the portfolio of information, culture, arts, and sports on March 2, 1973 following the arrest of Sylvain Bemba.
Joining the Central Committee of the PCT in December 1972, he held leading posts in the PCT during the 1970s. From December 1974 to December 1975, he was President of the PCT Central Commission of Control and Verification. He was included on the Council of State announced on January 8, 1976. Shortly after Denis Sassou Nguesso became President in early 1979, Tchicaya was elected as Vice-President by an extraordinary PCT party congress on March 31, 1979. From March 1979 to July 1984, he was a member of the PCT Political Bureau in charge of ideology and education and was the second ranking leader of the PCT. He was removed from all his positions in the party, including his seat on the Central Committee, in 1984. Although this decision was not officially explained, some speculated that Tchicaya was believed to have been involved in 1982 bomb attacks in Brazzaville. In August 1986, the Revolutionary Court of Justice sentenced Claude-Ernest Ndalla to death for those bomb attacks; Tchicaya was also tried, along with ten others, and he was given a five-year suspended sentence.
Political career after 1990
After splitting from the PCT, Tchicaya was part of the opposition National Union for Democracy and Progress (UNDP) at the beginning of the transition to multiparty democracy, but he left the UNDP to found another opposition party, the RDPS, on October 29, 1990. He was a delegate at the 1991 Sovereign National Conference, and at the Conference he famously declared "never again!" (plus jamais ça!).
Standing as the RDPS candidate in the August 1992 presidential election, he placed fifth with 5.78% of the vote. His best showing was in Kouilou Region (which includes Pointe-Noire, the country's second-largest city and economic capital), where he obtained 28% of the vote and placed second behind Pascal Lissouba. Tchicaya backed Bernard Kolélas of the Congolese Movement for Democracy and Integral Development (MCDDI) in the second round, but Lissouba defeated Kolélas.
After President Lissouba lost his parliamentary majority, he dissolved the National Assembly in preparation for a new parliamentary election. This led to a political crisis and the formation of a new government under Prime Minister Claude Antoine Dacosta that incorporated both Lissouba's supporters and members of the Union for Democratic Renewal (URD)–PCT opposition coalition. In this government, appointed on 25 December 1992, Tchicaya was Minister of Mines, Energy and Hydrocarbons. Dacosta's "60/40" government remained in place until the time of the May–June 1993 parliamentary election, in which Tchicaya won a seat in the National Assembly. The URD-PCT opposition coalition rejected the election results as fraudulent and formed a rival government in which Tchicaya was Prime Minister; he was also named Minister of National Defense and Minister of Hydrocarbons in the rival government. From 1993 to 1997 he was President of the URD Parliamentary Group. He was elected as Mayor of Pointe-Noire in July 1994, serving as Mayor from August 1994 to October 1997.
During the 1997 civil war, Tchicaya was the Second Vice-President of the National Mediation Committee, which was chaired by URD leader Bernard Kolélas and established in June 1997. After Kolélas was appointed Prime Minister, he formed a government on September 14, 1997 that included Tchicaya as Minister of State for Decentralization and Regional Development; this government fell only one month later, on October 14, 1997, when rebel forces loyal to former President and PCT leader Denis Sassou Nguesso captured Brazzaville. A few days later, Tchicaya announced the support of the RDPS for Sassou Nguesso.
At the end of the transitional period that followed the war, Tchicaya was elected to the National Assembly in the 2002 parliamentary election as the RDPS candidate in Pointe Noire's Mvou Mvou constituency; he won the seat in the first round with 68.55% of the vote. Following the parliamentary election, Tchicaya was elected as President of the National Assembly on August 10, 2002; he received 122 votes from the 128 deputies who voted. Additionally, when the Pan-African Parliament began meeting in March 2004, he became one of Congo's five members.
Tchicaya was critical of the way the 2007 parliamentary election was organized. Together with Justin Lekoundzou, the President of the Parliamentary Group of the Presidential Majority, Tchicaya sent a letter to President Sassou Nguesso on March 24, 2007. In this letter, Tchicaya and Lekoundzou urged the establishment of an independent national electoral commission to oversee the election. In the election, Tchicaya was re-elected as the RDPS candidate from Mvou Mvou 1 constituency in Pointe-Noire. He faced seven challengers and prevailed with 55.20% of the vote when the election was held over again in his constituency in July 2007 due to problems that plagued the first attempt. When the National Assembly held its first meeting of the new parliamentary term on September 4, 2007, Justin Koumba of the PCT was elected to succeed Tchicaya as President of the National Assembly.
Tchicaya was falsely reported to have died in Paris in October 2007. He subsequently died at the Georges Pompidou European Hospital in Paris on June 20, 2008. Prime Minister Isidore Mvouba described Tchicaya as a "great statesman" and a "worthy son of our country", and he said that Tchicaya had "always shown great consistency in his commitment to the values of the Republic and democracy" as a deputy in the National Assembly. Tchicaya's body was returned to Brazzaville from Paris on July 4, and he was the subject of an official tribute in the Palace of the Parliament on July 5. His body was then taken to Pointe-Noire on July 5 for his funeral and burial. This was marked by some disorder. Youths in the second arrondissement of Pointe-Noire initially refused to allow his coffin to be transferred from the Kokolo Copa Stadium to the Franco Anselmi Stadium, which was the site of the funeral, although they surrendered it after negotiations. Some looting and arrests occurred. After the funeral on July 7, he was buried at his family cemetery of Mboukou, located in the city's third arrondissement, Tié-Tié.
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- Rémy Bazenguissa-Ganga, Les voies du politique au Congo: essai de sociologie historique (1997), Karthala Editions, page 446 (French).
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- Bazenguissa-Ganga, Les voies du politique au Congo: essai de sociologie historique, pages 193 and 211 (French).
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- Africa Research Bulletin (1993), page 10847.
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- Howard W. French, "Rebels, Backed by Angola, Take Brazzaville and Oil Port", The New York Times, October 16, 1997.
- "Congo: Pointe-Noire mayor declares his party's support for Sassou-Nguesso", Radio France Internationale (nl.newsbank.com), October 20, 1997.
- "Elections législatives : les 51 élus du premier tour", Les Dépêches de Brazzaville, June 5, 2002 (French).
- "Jean-Pierre Thystère-Tchikaya élu président de l’Assemblée nationale" at the Wayback Machine (archived March 11, 2012), Les Dépêches de Brazzaville, August 10, 2002 (French).
- IPU-PARLINE page on 2002 parliamentary election.
- List of members of the Pan-African Parliament (as of March 15, 2004), African Union website.
- "Le second tour des législatives au Congo reporté au 5 août", AFP (afriklive.com), July 20, 2007 (French).
- Muriel Devey, "Sur un air de plébiscite", Jeuneafrique.com, August 10, 2008 (French).
- "Législatives 2007. Jean-Pierre Thystère Tchicaya et Lekoundzou Itihi Ossetoumba adressent une lettre au Chef de l'Etat", Les Dépêches de Brazzaville, March 31, 2007 (French).
- "La liste complète des députés", Les Dépêches de Brazzaville, August 11, 2007 (French).
- Gankama N'Siah, "Le sort des poids lourds positionnés dans les circonscriptions électorales de l'hinterland", Les Dépêches de Brazzaville, June 20, 2007 (French).
- "La nouvelle Assemblée nationale entre en fonction", Xinhua (Jeuneafrique.com), September 5, 2007 (French).
- Thierry Noungou, "Isidore Mvouba salue la mémoire « d'un grand homme d'État, digne fils du Congo »", Les Dépêches de Brazzaville, June 21, 2008 (French).
- "La République rend un dernier hommage à Jean Pierre Thistère Tchicaya", Les Dépêches de Brazzaville, July 5, 2008 (French).
- Frenette Antsoua Loembet, "Les Ponténégrins ont rendu un hommage mérité à Jean-Pierre Thystere Tchicaya", Les Dépêches de Brazzaville, July 11, 2008 (French).