Alphonse Massamba-Débat

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Alphonse Massamba-Débat

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

Early life[edit]

He was born in Nkolo, French Equatorial Africa, in 1921, and was a member of the Lari tribe. He attended missionary school and by age 13 was a teacher in Chad. 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.[1] In 1947 he moved back to Congo and became the headmaster at a school in Brazzaville and joined the Congolese Progressive Party (PPC).[1]


By 1957 Massamba-Débat had joined Fulbert Youlou's Democratic Union for the Defense of African Interests party, 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 and 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[2] 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.[3]

Massamba-Débat also attempted to form popular militia units and in 1966 with the help of the Cuban army.[4] 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.[4]

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.[3]

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 of placed under house arrest. When Ngouabi was murdered in 1977, many people were arrested and tried for plotting the assassination, including Massamba-Débat. Massamba-Débat was executed on March 25, 1977 in circumstances that remain cloudy.[3][5]


  1. ^ a b Database Search, Massamba-Débat, Alphonse
  2. ^ "Alphonse Massamba-Debat - biography - president of Republic of the Congo". Encyclopedia Britannica. 
  3. ^ a b c History Database Search, Massamba-Débat, Alphonse
  4. ^ a b Gleijeses, Piero (2002). Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959-1976. University of North Carolina Press. p. 169-172. ISBN 0-8078-5464-6. 
  5. ^ "The Sydney Morning Herald - Google News Archive Search". 

External link[edit]

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