Ex-Congo president Pascal Lissouba dies at 88

Former Congolese president Pascal Lissouba PHOTO: Reuters
Ex-president of Congo, Pascal Lissouba. AFP

Pascal Lissouba, former President of the Republic of Congo from 1992 to 1997, died Monday morning in France at the age of 88.

President Lissouba passed away after a short illness, said MP Honore Sayi, a spokesman for the Pan-African Union for Social Democracy (UPADS) created by the former leader in 1992.

His son Jeremie Lissouba, a lawmaker, confirmed his father’s death on Facebook.

After losing power in 1997 following the Congolese civil war, the late former head of state had moved to France in 2004 after stays in Libreville, Burkina Faso and London.

Lissouba was born in Tsinguidi, southwest of the country. He studied agricultural engineering, gaining a doctorate in France in the late 1950s during the final years of colonial rule.

He became minister of agriculture in the newly-independent Congo in the 1960s before serving as prime minister under the then president Alphonse Massamba-Debat.

In 1977, he was sentenced to forced labour for life in a crackdown unleashed by the assassination of president Marien Ngoubi.

He was released two years later and went to France, where he taught genetics at a university in Paris, and then headed to Kenya as an official for the UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

In 1991, Lissouba set up UPADS as international pressure pushed Sassou Nguesso, a French-trained paratrooper who came to power in 1979, to organize a multi-party vote.