Denis Sassou Nguesso (born 1943) has been the President of the Republic of the Congo since 1997; he was previously President from 1979 to 1992. During his first period as President, he headed the single-party regime of the Congolese Labour Party (PCT) for 12 years; following the introduction of multiparty politics in 1990, he lost executive powers as a result of the 1991 National Conference and was subsequently defeated in the 1992 presidential election, placing third. Five years later, he returned to power when his forces overthrew the democratically elected president Pascal Lissouba in the 1997 civil war. Following a transitional period, he won the 2002 presidential election, which lacked meaningful opposition participation.
A member of the Mbochi tribe, Sassou Nguesso was born in Edou in the Oyo district to the north of the country.
He joined the army in 1960 just before the country was granted independence. He was marked for prominence and received military training in Algeria and at Saint Maixent, France before returning to join the elite paratroop regiment.