Ending the armed conflict in Republic of Congo


The ceasefire and cessation of hostilities agreements ended the Ninja insurgency in the Pool region, while a comprehensive Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration programme has helped to stabilise the area.

The implementation of the peace agreements that ended the 1997-1999 war in the Republic of Congo was impeded by frequent armed clashes between 2002 and 2007. By 2010, the situation was improving, and the country was at peace for several years.1 However, this fragile calm was threatened once again in the run-up to the March 2016 presidential election. Following a widely criticised referendum to extend presidential term limits, the election went ahead amidst a government-enforced media blackout and the incumbent administration claimed victory. The opposition dismissed the results as fraudulent and launched a campaign of civil disobedience. In this fraught climate, armed groups centred on former militants of the Ntsiloulou faction of the Ninja militias (which fought in the civil war) launched an attack on police, military, and administration compounds in the capital, Brazzaville, in April 2016.2 In response, government security forces launched a major assault on suspected Ninja hideouts in the forests of the Pool region, killing many civilians, and driving 200,000 people from their homes in the process.3

The fighting continued until 23 December 2017, when talks between government and Ninja representatives culminated in a ceasefire and a cessation of hostilities agreement. The deal entailed Ninja withdrawals from key strategic points (such as the Congo-Ocean railway) and an arms-for-cash Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration programme focused on the Pool region.4 Fears that the agreement would collapse were allayed somewhat on 31 August 2018, when a follow-up agreement was signed with UN support committing considerable financial resources to incentivise ex-Ninja combatants to disarm and stabilise the area. Approximately 7,500 former rebels surrendered their weapons in exchange for cash payments, while additional aspects of the programme focused on helping displaced people return to their homes.5 The government-led efforts to resolve the conflict quickly succeeded in ending the fighting and prevented a much larger war in the Republic of Congo.

1 UCDP. Government of Congo – Ninjas. (UCDP, 2021) Available at: https://ucdp.uu.se/statebased/861 (Accessed 26/10/2021)

2 Reuters and AP. “Heavy gunfire in Congo-Brazzaville capital as police battle militia.” The Guardian. (4 April 2016) Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/04/heavy-gunfire-in-congo-brazzaville-capital-as-police-battle-militia (Accessed 26/10/2021)

3 Philip Kleinfeld. “Updated: Congo-Brazzaville’s hidden war.” The New Humanitarian. (18 June 2018) Available at: https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/2018/06/18/updated-congo-brazzaville-s-hidden-war (Accessed 26/10/2021)

4 Reuters Staff. “Congo Republic signs peace accord with ‘Ninja’ rebels.” Reuters. (23 December 2017) Available at: https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-congorepublic-security/congo-republic-signs-peace-accord-with-ninja-rebels-idUKKBN1EH0HT?edition-redirect=uk (Accessed 26/10/2021)

5 Firmin Oyé. “Le programme DDR sera élargi à la population civile.” Les Dépêches de Brazzaville, No. 3309. (3 September 2018) p.2

Start Year


End Year



Republic of Congo

UN Regional Group


Type of Conflict

Vertical (state-based) intrastate conflict

Type of Initiative

Mediation of a peace agreement

Main Implementing Organisation(s)

The Government of Republic of Congo




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