• Short Summary

    President Joachim Yhombi-Opango of the Congo has resigned. an announcement broadcast by the state radio?

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    President Joachim Yhombi-Opango of the Congo has resigned. an announcement broadcast by the state radio in Brazzaville on Monday night (5 February) said that he and his military committee had handed over their powers to the central committee of the country's only political party, the Congolese Workers' Party.

    The central committee has asked the Prime Minister, Louis Sylvain Goma, to stay in office for the time being. It will now appoint a provisional political directorate to govern the country until the next party congress towards the end of the March.

    SYNOPSIS: Party and government have always been close. A mass party rally last August pledged full support for the President and military committee. It was held on the fifteenth anniversary of the revolution that proclaimed the Congo a Marxist-Leninist state -- and it was celebrating the failure of an attempted coup.

    President Yhombi-Opango was at the rally, with members of the military committee. But the harmony between them and the party seems to have been broken. In a speech two days ago, the President denounced what he called intrigues and divisions within the party. He told the central committee that the country was in a grave economic situation, but top party officials were not taking it seriously. They were putting their internal rivalries first.

    President Yhombi-Opango came to power in March 1977, after the assassination of his predecessor, President Marien Ngouabi. The new regime brought no major change of policy. President Ngouabi was an honoured figure to his successors, and a memorial parade was held to mark the first anniversary of his death.

    Madame Celine Ngouabi, the late President's widow, and the diplomatic corps in Brazzaville were there to see President Yhombi-Opango lay the Joliot-Curie medal on President Ngouabi's grave. It had been awarded to him by the World Peace Council. Other recipients have been Salvador Allende, the assassinated Marxist President of Chile, and Yasser Arafat, head of the Palestine Liberation Organisation. The reason for President Ngouabi's murder was never made entirely clear. One report said he was shot by his own bodyguard -- another implicated the man he had ousted in 1968, Alphonse Massamba-Debat. Massamba-Debat was tried by a military court and executed by firing squad within a week of the killing.

    The Congo, a former French colony, has had substantial economic aid from France, which financed the new port, opened last October, at Mossaka on the Congo River.

    But as President Yhombi-Opango has just admitted, the country is still in grave economic difficulties. It is short of investment in key industries; inflation is running at about ninety percent a year; state employees are apparently not being paid. The President's being paid. The President's departure leaves these problems to the party central committee to solve.

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    Reuters - Source to be Verified
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