Congo Republic: Movement to the Right

CONGO REPUBLIC

The first messages from Brazzaville, capital of the Congo Republic, reported that paratroops led by a Maoist officer had overthrown left-wing President Alphonse Massamba-Debat, forcing him to flee to his native village. Hardly 20 hours later, the 47-year-old President was once more in office, called back by the army that had ousted him. Moreover, what originally looked like a left-wing grab for power turned out to be a putsch from the right.

The confusion was understandable. When Massamba-Debat came to power five years ago, he quickly set the former French colony on a course toward what he called "scientific socialism." His...