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Republic of Zairea
Anthem: La Zaïroise
"The Song of Zaire"
|Religion||Christianity, Baluba religion, Bantu religion|
|Government|| Mobutist one-party c republic under a totalitarian dictatorship (1971–90)|
Multiparty state under a de facto military dictatorship (1990–97)
|Mobutu Sese Seko|
|Historical era||Cold War|
|25 November 1965|
• Country renamed
|27 October 1971|
|16 May 1997|
• Death of Mobutu
|7 September 1997|
|1996||2,345,410 km2 (905,570 sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET / EET|
|Today part of|
a. Renamed from "Democratic Republic of the Congo" (République démocratique du Congo) on 27 October 1971.
b. Changed from Léopoldville in 1966.
c. Zaire became a de jure one-party state on 23 December 1970, but had been a de facto one-party state since May 20, 1967, the date on which the MPR (Mouvement Populaire de la Revolution) was established. Zaire formally adopted a multiparty system on April 24, 1990, when Mobutu delivered a speech proclaiming the end of the one-party system. The country adopted multipartyism de jure with the passage of Law No. 90-002 of July 5, 1990, which amended its constitution accordingly.
Part of a series on the
|History of the Democratic Republic of the Congo|
|See also: Years|
Zaire ( // ), officially the Republic of Zaire (French : République du Zaïre; French pronunciation: [za.iʁ] ), was the name of a sovereign state between 1971 and 1997 in Central Africa that is now known as Democratic Republic of the Congo. The country was a one-party totalitarian dictatorship, run by Mobutu Sese Seko and his ruling Popular Movement of the Revolution party. Zaire was established following Mobutu's seizure of power in a military coup in 1965, following five years of political upheaval following independence known as the Congo Crisis. Zaire had a strongly centralist constitution, and foreign assets were nationalised. The period is sometimes referred to as the Second Congolese Republic.
French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.
Central Africa is the core region of the African continent which includes Burundi, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda. Middle Africa is an analogous term that includes Angola, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, the Republic of the Congo, and São Tomé and Príncipe. All of the states in the UN subregion of Middle Africa, plus those otherwise commonly reckoned in Central Africa, constitute the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS). Since its independence in 2011, South Sudan has also been commonly included in the region.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo, also known as DR Congo, the DRC, DROC, Congo-Kinshasa, East Congo, or simply the Congo, is a country located in Central Africa. It is sometimes anachronistically referred to by its former name of Zaire, which was its official name between 1971 and 1997. It is, by area, the largest country in Sub-Saharan Africa, the second-largest in all of Africa, and the 11th-largest in the world. With a population of over 78 million, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the most populated officially Francophone country, the fourth-most-populated country in Africa, and the 16th-most-populated country in the world. Currently, eastern DR Congo is the scene of ongoing military conflict in Kivu, since 2015.
A wider campaign of Authenticité , ridding the country of the influences from the colonial era of the Belgian Congo, was also launched under Mobutu's direction. Weakened by the end of American support after the end of the Cold War, Mobutu was forced to declare a new republic in 1990 to cope with demands for change. By the time of its downfall, Mobutu's rule was characterised by widespread cronyism, corruption and economic mismanagement.
Authenticité, sometimes Zairianisation in English, was an official state ideology of the Mobutu regime that originated in the late 1960s and early 1970s in what was first the Republic of Congo-Léopoldville, later renamed Zaire. The authenticity campaign was an effort to rid the country of the lingering vestiges of colonialism and the continuing influence of Western culture and to create a more centralized and singular national identity. The policy, as implemented, included numerous changes to the state and to private life, including the renaming of the Congo and its cities, as well as an eventual mandate that Zairians were to abandon their Christian names for more "authentic" ones. In addition, Western style attire was banned and replaced with the Mao-style tunic labeled the "abacost" and its female equivalent. The policy began to wane in the late 1970s and had mostly been abandoned by 1990.
The Belgian Congo was a Belgian colony in Central Africa from 1908 until independence in 1960. The former colony adopted its present-day name, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), in 1964.
The Cold War was a period of geopolitical tension between the Soviet Union with its satellite states, and the United States with its allies after World War II. A common historiography of the conflict begins between 1946, the year U.S. diplomat George F. Kennan's "Long Telegram" from Moscow cemented a U.S. foreign policy of containment of Soviet expansionism threatening strategically vital regions, and the Truman Doctrine of 1947, and ending between the Revolutions of 1989, which ended communism in Eastern Europe as well as in other areas, and the 1991 collapse of the USSR, when nations of the Soviet Union abolished communism and restored their independence. The term "cold" is used because there was no large-scale fighting directly between the two sides, but they each supported major regional conflicts known as proxy wars. The conflict split the temporary wartime alliance against Nazi Germany and its allies, leaving the USSR and the US as two superpowers with profound economic and political differences.
Zaire collapsed in the 1990s, amid the destabilization of the eastern parts of the state in the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide and growing ethnic violence. In 1996, Laurent-Désiré Kabila , the head of the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (AFDL) militia, led a popular rebellion against Mobutu. With rebel forces successfully making gains beyond the east, Mobutu fled the country, leaving Kabila's forces in charge as the country restored its name to the Democratic Republic of the Congo the following year. Mobutu died within four months after he fled into exile in Morocco.
The Rwandan genocide, also known as the genocide against the Tutsi, was a mass slaughter of Tutsi and moderate Hutu in Rwanda, which took place between 7 April and 15 July 1994 during the Rwandan Civil War.
Laurent-Désiré Kabila, or simply Laurent Kabila, was a Congolese revolutionary and politician who served as the third President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from May 17, 1997, when he overthrew Mobutu Sese Seko, until his assassination by one of his bodyguards on January 16, 2001. He was succeeded eight days later by his 29-year-old son Joseph.
The Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire was a coalition of Rwandan, Ugandan, Burundian, and selected Congolese dissidents, disgruntled minority groups, and nations that toppled Mobutu Sese Seko and brought Laurent-Désiré Kabila to power in the First Congo War. Although the group was successful in overthrowing Mobutu, the alliance fell apart after Kabila did not agree to be dictated by his foreign backers, Rwanda and Uganda, which marked the beginning of the Second Congo War in 1998.
The state's name, Zaire was derived from the name of the Congo River, sometimes called Zaire in Portuguese, adapted from the Kongo word nzere or nzadi ("river that swallows all rivers").Congo seems to have replaced Zaire gradually in English usage during the 18th century, and Congo is the preferred English name in 19th-century literature, although references to Zahir or Zaire as the name used by the natives (i.e. derived from Portuguese usage) remained common.
The great Congo River, formerly known as the Zaire River under the Mobutu regime, is the second longest river in Africa, shorter only than the Nile, as well as the second largest river in the world by discharge volume, following only the Amazon. It is also the world's deepest recorded river, with measured depths in excess of 220 m (720 ft). The Congo-Lualaba-Chambeshi River system has an overall length of 4,700 km (2,920 mi), which makes it the world's ninth-longest river. The Chambeshi is a tributary of the Lualaba River, and Lualaba is the name of the Congo River upstream of Boyoma Falls, extending for 1,800 km (1,120 mi).
Portuguese is a Western Romance language originating in the Iberian Peninsula. It is the sole official language of Portugal, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Angola, and São Tomé and Príncipe. It also has co-official language status in East Timor, Equatorial Guinea and Macau in China. As the result of expansion during colonial times, a cultural presence of Portuguese and Portuguese creole speakers are also found in Goa, Daman and Diu in India; in Batticaloa on the east coast of Sri Lanka; in the Indonesian island of Flores; in the Malacca state of Malaysia; and the ABC islands in the Caribbean where Papiamento is spoken, while Cape Verdean Creole is the most widely spoken Portuguese-based Creole. Reintegrationists maintain that Galician is not a separate language, but a dialect of Portuguese. A Portuguese-speaking person or nation is referred to as "Lusophone" (Lusófono).
Kongo or Kikongo is one of the Bantu languages spoken by the Kongo and Ndundu people living in the tropical forests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the Congo and Angola. It is a tonal language. It was spoken by many of those who were taken from the region and sold as slaves in the Americas. For this reason, while Kongo still is spoken in the above-mentioned countries, creolized forms of the language are found in ritual speech of Afro-American religions, especially in Brazil, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Haiti. It is also one of the sources of the Gullah language and the Palenquero creole in Colombia. The vast majority of present-day speakers live in Africa. There are roughly seven million native speakers of Kongo, with perhaps two million more who use it as a second language.
In 1965, as in 1960, the division of power in Congo-Léopoldville between President and Parliament led to a stalemate and threatened the country's stability. Joseph-Désiré Mobutu again seized power. Unlike the first time, however, Mobutu assumed the presidency, rather than remaining behind the scenes. From 1965, Mobutu dominated the political life of the country, restructuring the state on more than one occasion, and claiming the title of "Father of the Nation".
The Congo Crisis, was a period of political upheaval and conflict in the Republic of the Congo between 1960 and 1965. The crisis began almost immediately after the Congo became independent from Belgium and ended, unofficially, with the entire country under the rule of Joseph-Désiré Mobutu. Constituting a series of civil wars, the Congo Crisis was also a proxy conflict in the Cold War, in which the Soviet Union and the United States supported opposing factions. Around 100,000 people are believed to have been killed during the crisis.
The Republic of the Congo was a sovereign state in Central Africa that was created with the independence of the Belgian Congo in 1960. From 1960 to 1966, the country was often known as Congo-Léopoldville in order to distinguish it from its north-western neighbour, also called the Republic of the Congo or Congo-Brazzaville. With the renaming of Léopoldville as Kinshasa on 1 June 1966, it was known as Congo-Kinshasa until 1971.
Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga was a Congolese politician and military officer who was the military dictator and President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 1965 to 1997. He also served as Chairman of the Organisation of African Unity from 1967 to 1968.
When, under the authenticity policy of the early 1970s, Zairians were obliged to adopt "authentic" names, Mobutu dropped Joseph-Désiré and officially changed his name to Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga, or, more commonly, Mobutu Sésé Seko, roughly meaning "the all-conquering warrior, who goes from triumph to triumph".
In retrospective justification of his 1965 seizure of power, Mobutu later summed up the record of the First Republic as one of "chaos, disorder, negligence, and incompetence". Rejection of the legacy of the First Republic went far beyond rhetoric. In the first two years of its existence, the new regime turned to the urgent tasks of political reconstruction and consolidation. Creating a new basis of legitimacy for the state, in the form of a single party, came next in Mobutu's order of priority.
A third imperative was to expand the reach of the state in the social and political realms, a process that began in 1970 and culminated in the adoption of a new constitution in 1977. By 1976, however, this effort had begun to generate its own inner contradictions, thus paving the way for the resurrection of a Bula Matari ("the breaker of rocks") system.
A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles or established precedents that constitute the legal basis of a polity, organisation or other type of entity, and commonly determine how that entity is to be governed.
By 1967, Mobutu had consolidated his rule and proceeded to give the country a new constitution and a single party. The new constitution was submitted to popular referendum in June 1967 and approved by 98 percent of those voting. It provided that executive powers be centralised in the president, who was to be head of state, head of government, commander in chief of the armed forces and the police, and in charge of foreign policy.
The president was to appoint and dismiss cabinet members and determine their areas of responsibility. The ministers, as heads of their respective departments, were to execute the programs and decisions of the president. The president also was to have the power to appoint and dismiss the governors of the provinces and the judges of all courts, including those of the Supreme Court of Justice.
The bicameral parliament was replaced by a unicameral legislative body called the National Assembly. Governors of provinces were no longer elected by provincial assemblies but appointed by the central government. The president had the power to issue autonomous regulations on matters other than those pertaining to the domain of law, without prejudice to other provisions of the constitution. Under certain conditions, the president was empowered to govern by executive order, which carried the force of law.
But the most far-reaching change was the creation of the Popular Movement of the Revolution (Mouvement Populaire de la Révolution—MPR) on 17 April 1967, marking the emergence of "the nation politically organised". Rather than being the emanation of the state, the state was henceforth defined as the emanation of the party. Thus, in October 1967 party and administrative responsibilities were merged into a single framework, thereby automatically extending the role of the party to all administrative organs at the central and provincial levels, as well as to the trade unions, youth movements, and student organisations.
Every seven years, the MPR elected a president who simultaneously began a seven-year term as president of the republic. Every five years, a single list of MPR candidates was returned to the National Assembly. For all intents and purposes, this gave the president of the MPR—Mobutu—complete political control over the country.
The doctrinal foundation was disclosed shortly after its birth, in the form of the Manifesto of N'sele (named so because it was issued from the president's rural residence at N'sele, 60 km upriver from Kinshasa), made public in May 1967. Nationalism, revolution, and authenticity were identified as the major themes of what came to be known as "Mobutism".
Nationalism implied the achievement of economic and political independence. Revolution, described as a "truly national revolution, essentially pragmatic", meant "the repudiation of both capitalism and communism". Thus, "neither right nor left" became one of the legitimising slogans of the regime, along with "authenticity".
The concept of authenticity was derived from the MPR's professed doctrine of "authentic Zairian nationalism and condemnation of regionalism and tribalism". Mobutu defined it as being conscious of one's own personality and one's own values and of being at home in one's culture. In line with the dictates of authenticity, the name of the country was changed to the Republic of Zaire on 27 October 1971,and that of the armed forces to Zairian Armed Forces (Forces Armées Zaïroises—FAZ).
This decision was curious, given that the name Congo, which referred both to the river Congo and to the ancient Kongo Empire, was fundamentally "authentic" to pre-colonial African roots, while Zaire is in fact a Portuguese corruption of another African word, Nzere ("river", by Nzadi o Nzere, "the river that swallows all the other rivers", another name of the Congo river). General Mobutu became Mobutu Sésé Seko and forced all his citizens to adopt African names and many cities were also renamed.
Some of the conversions are as follows:
Additionally, the zaïre was introduced to replace the franc as the new national currency. 100 makuta (singular likuta) equaled one zaïre. The likuta was also divided into 100 sengi. However this unit was worth very little, so the smallest coin was for 10 sengi.[ citation needed ] Many other geographic name changes had already taken place, between 1966 and 1971. The adoption of Zairian, as opposed to Western or Christian, names in 1972 and the abandonment of Western dress in favour of the wearing of the abacost were subsequently promoted as expressions of authenticity.
Authenticity provided Mobutu with his strongest claim to philosophical originality. So, far from implying a rejection of modernity, authenticity is perhaps best seen as an effort to reconcile the claims of the traditional Zairian culture with the exigencies of modernisation. Exactly how this synthesis was to be accomplished remained unclear, however. What is beyond doubt is Mobutu's effort to use the concept of authenticity as a means of vindicating his own brand of leadership. As he himself stated, "in our African tradition there are never two chiefs ... That is why we Congolese, in the desire to conform to the traditions of our continent, have resolved to group all the energies of the citizens of our country under the banner of a single national party."
Critics of the regime were quick to point out the shortcomings of Mobutism as a legitimising formula, in particular its selfserving qualities and inherent vagueness; nonetheless, the MPR's ideological training centre, the Makanda Kabobi Institute, took seriously its assigned task of propagating through the land "the teachings of the Founder-President, which must be given and interpreted in the same fashion throughout the country". Members of the MPR Political Bureau, meanwhile, were entrusted with the responsibility of serving as "the repositories and guarantors of Mobutism".
Quite aside from the merits or weaknesses of Mobutism, the MPR drew much of its legitimacy from the model of the overarching mass parties that had come into existence in Africa in the 1960s, a model which had also been a source of inspiration for the MNC-Lumumba. It was this Lumumbist heritage which the MPR tried to appropriate in its effort to mobilise the Zairian masses behind its founder-president. Intimately tied up with the doctrine of Mobutism was the vision of an all-encompassing single party reaching out to all sectors of the nation.
Translating the concept of "the nation politically organised" into reality implied a major expansion of state control of civil society. It meant, to begin with, the incorporation of youth groups and worker organisations into the matrix of the MPR. In July 1967, the Political Bureau announced the creation of the Youth of the Popular Revolutionary Movement (Jeunesse du Mouvement Populaire de la Révolution—JMPR), following the launching a month earlier of the National Union of Zairian Workers (Union Nationale des Travailleurs Zaïrois—UNTZA), which brought together into a single organisational framework three preexisting trade unions.
Ostensibly, the aim of the merger, in the terms of the Manifesto of N'Sele, was to transform the role of trade unions from "being merely a force of confrontation" into "an organ of support for government policy", thus providing "a communication link between the working class and the state". Similarly, the JMPR was to act as a major link between the student population and the state. In reality, the government was attempting to bring under its control those sectors where opposition to the regime might be centred. By appointing key labour and youth leaders to the MPR Political Bureau, the regime hoped to harness syndical and student forces to the machinery of the state. Nevertheless, as has been pointed out by numerous observers, there is little evidence that co-optation succeeded in mobilising support for the regime beyond the most superficial level.
The trend toward co-optation of key social sectors continued in subsequent years. Women's associations were eventually brought under the control of the party, as was the press, and in December 1971 Mobutu proceeded to emasculate the power of the churches. From then on, only three churches were recognised: the Church of Christ in Zaire (L'Église du Christ au Zaïre), the Kimbanguist Church, and the Roman Catholic Church.
Nationalisation of the universities of Kinshasa and Kisangani, coupled with Mobutu's insistence on banning all Christian names and establishing JMPR sections in all seminaries, soon brought the Roman Catholic Church and the state into conflict. Not until 1975, and after considerable pressure from the Vatican, did the regime agree to tone down its attacks on the Roman Catholic Church and return some of its control of the school system to the church. Meanwhile, in line with a December 1971 law, which allowed the state to dissolve "any church or sect that compromises or threatens to compromise public order", scores of unrecognised religious sects were dissolved and their leaders jailed.
Mobutu was careful also to suppress all institutions that could mobilise ethnic loyalties. Avowedly opposed to ethnicity as a basis for political alignment, he outlawed such ethnic associations as the Association of Lulua Brothers (Association des Lulua Frères), which had been organised in Kasai in 1953 in reaction to the growing political and economic influence in Kasai of the rival Luba people, and Liboke lya Bangala (literally, "a bundle of Bangala"), an association formed in the 1950s to represent the interests of Lingala speakers in large cities. It helped Mobutu that his ethnic affiliation was blurred in the public mind. Nevertheless, as dissatisfaction arose, ethnic tensions surfaced again.
Running parallel to the efforts of the state to control all autonomous sources of power, important administrative reforms were introduced in 1967 and 1973 to strengthen the hand of the central authorities in the provinces. The central objective of the 1967 reform was to abolish provincial governments and replace them with state functionaries appointed by Kinshasa. The principle of centralisation was further extended to districts and territories, each headed by administrators appointed by the central government.
The only units of government that still retained a fair measure of autonomy—but not for long—were the so-called local collectivities, i.e. chiefdoms and sectors (the latter incorporating several chiefdoms). The unitary, centralised state system thus legislated into existence bore a striking resemblance to its colonial antecedent, except that from July 1972 provinces were called regions.
With the January 1973 reform, another major step was taken in the direction of further centralisation. The aim, in essence, was to operate a complete fusion of political and administrative hierarchies by making the head of each administrative unit the president of the local party committee. Furthermore, another consequence of the reform was to severely curtail the power of traditional authorities at the local level. Hereditary claims to authority would no longer be recognised; instead, all chiefs were to be appointed and controlled by the state via the administrative hierarchy. By then, the process of centralisation had theoretically eliminated all preexisting centres of local autonomy.
The analogy with the colonial state becomes even more compelling when coupled with the introduction in 1973 of "obligatory civic work" (locally known as Salongo after the Lingala term for work), in the form of one afternoon a week of compulsory labor on agricultural and development projects. Officially described as a revolutionary attempt to return to the values of communalism and solidarity inherent in the traditional society, Salongo was intended to mobilise the population into the performance of collective work "with enthusiasm and without constraint".
In reality, the conspicuous lack of popular enthusiasm for Salongo led to widespread resistance and foot dragging (causing many local administrators to look the other way), while failure to comply carried penalties of one month to six months in jail. The "voluntary" work was merely forced labour, and by the late 1970s most Zairians avoided their Salongo obligations. By resuscitating one of the most bitterly resented features of the colonial state, obligatory civic work contributed in no small way to the erosion of legitimacy suffered by the Mobutist state.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Mobutu's government relied on a selected pool of technocrats, often referred to as the "nomenklatura", from which the Head of State drew, and periodically rotated, competent individuals. They comprised the Executive Council and led the full spectrum of Ministries, Departments or, as governmental terminology shifted, Commissariats. Among these individuals were internationally respected appointees such as Djamboleka Lona Okitongono who was named Secretary of Finance, under Citizen Namwisi (Minister of Finance), and later became President of OGEDEP, the National Debt Management Office.
Ultimately, Djamboleka became Governor of the Bank of Zaire in the final stage of Mobutu's government. His progress was fairly typical of the rotational pattern established by Mobutu, who retained the most sensitive ministerial portfolios (such as Defense) for himself.
In 1977 and 1978, Katangan rebels based in Angola launched two invasions—Shaba I and Shaba II—into the Katanga Province (renamed "Shaba" in 1972). The rebels were driven out with military assistance from the Western Bloc and China, particularly from the Safari Club.
During the 1980s, Zaire remained a one-party state. Although Mobutu successfully maintained control during this period, opposition parties, most notably the Union pour la Démocratie et le Progrès Social (UDPS), were active. Mobutu's attempts to quell these groups drew significant international criticism.
As the Cold War came to a close, internal and external pressures on Mobutu increased. In late 1989 and early 1990, Mobutu was weakened by a series of domestic protests, by heightened international criticism of his regime's human rights practices, by a faltering economy, and by government corruption, most notably his massive embezzlement of government funds for personal use. In June 1989, Mobutu visited Washington, D.C., where he was the first African head of state to be invited for a state meeting with newly elected U.S. President George H. W. Bush.
In May 1990, Mobutu agreed to the principle of a multi-party system with elections and a constitution. As details of a reform package were delayed, soldiers began looting Kinshasa in September 1991 to protest their unpaid wages. Two thousand French and Belgian troops, some of whom were flown in on U.S. Air Force planes, arrived to evacuate the 20,000 endangered foreign nationals in Kinshasa.
In 1992, after previous similar attempts, the long-promised Sovereign National Conference was staged, encompassing over 2,000 representatives from various political parties. The conference gave itself a legislative mandate and elected Archbishop Laurent Monsengwo as its chairman, along with Étienne Tshisekedi wa Mulumba, leader of the UDPS, as prime minister. By the end of the year Mobutu had created a rival government with its own prime minister. The ensuing stalemate produced a compromise merger of the two governments into the High Council of Republic–Parliament of Transition (HCR–PT) in 1994, with Mobutu as head of state and Kengo wa Dondo as prime minister. Although presidential and legislative elections were scheduled repeatedly over the next 2 years, they never took place.
By 1996, tensions from the neighbouring Rwandan Civil War and genocide had spilled over to Zaire (see History of Rwanda). Rwandan Hutu militia forces (Interahamwe), who had fled Rwanda following the ascension of an RPF-led government, had been using Hutu refugee camps in eastern Zaire as bases for incursion against Rwanda. These Hutu militia forces soon allied with the Zairian armed forces (FAZ) to launch a campaign against Congolese ethnic Tutsis in eastern Zaire, known as the Banyamulenge. In turn, these Zairian Tutsis formed a militia to defend themselves against attacks. When the Zairian government began to escalate its massacres in November 1996, the Tutsi militias erupted in rebellion against Mobutu, starting what would become known as the First Congo War.
The Tutsi militia was soon joined by various opposition groups and supported by several countries, including Rwanda and Uganda. This coalition, led by Laurent-Désiré Kabila, became known as the Alliance des Forces Démocratiques pour la Libération du Congo-Zaïre (AFDL). The AFDL, now seeking the broader goal of ousting Mobutu, made significant military gains in early 1997, and by the middle of 1997 had almost completely overrun the country. The only thing that seemed to slow the AFDL forces down was the country's ramshackle infrastructure; irregularly used dirt paths and river ports were all that connected some areas to the outside world. Following failed peace talks between Mobutu and Kabila, Mobutu fled into exile in Morocco on May 17. Kabila named himself president, consolidated power around himself and the AFDL, and marched unopposed into Kinshasa three days later. On May 21 Kabila officially reverted the name of the country to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Zaire's top-level domain was " .zr ". It has since changed to " .cd ".
The earliest discovered human remains in the DR Congo, were discovered in the 1990s and have been dated to approximately 90,000 years ago. The first real states, such as the Kongo, the Lunda, the Luba and Kuba, appeared south of the equatorial forest on the savannah from the 14th century onwards.
Politics of the Democratic Republic of Congo take place in a framework of a republic in transition from a civil war to a semi-presidential republic.
Joseph Kabila Kabange is a Congolese politician who served as President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo between January 2001 and January 2019. He took office ten days after the assassination of his father, President Laurent-Désiré Kabila. He was elected as President in 2006 and re-elected in 2011 for a second term. Since stepping down after the 2018 election, Kabila, as a former president, will be a senator for life, according to the Constitution of the DRC.
Léon Kengo wa Dondo is a Congolese politician who served as the "first state commissioner" several times under Mobutu Sese Seko in Zaïre. He was one of the most powerful figures in the regime and was a strong advocate of economic globalization and free-market economics. Since 2007, he has been President of the Senate of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The Second Congo War began in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in August 1998, little more than a year after the First Congo War, and involved some of the same issues. The war officially ended in July 2003, when the Transitional Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo took power. Although a peace agreement was signed in 2002, violence has continued in many regions of the country, especially in the east. Hostilities have continued since the ongoing Lord's Resistance Army insurgency, and the Kivu and Ituri conflicts.
The First Congo War (1996–1997), also nicknamed Africa's First World War, was a civil war and international military conflict which mostly took place in Zaire, with major spillovers into Sudan and Uganda. The conflict culminated in a foreign invasion that replaced Zairean President Mobutu Sésé Seko with the rebel leader Laurent-Désiré Kabila.
Étienne Tshisekedi wa Mulumba was a Congolese politician and the leader of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), the main opposing political party in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). A long-time opposition leader, he served as Prime Minister of the country on three brief occasions: in 1991, 1992–1993, and 1997.
The Popular Movement of the Revolution was the ruling political party in Zaire which, for most of its existence, was the sole permitted faction in Zaire's one-party state. Founded by Joseph-Désiré Mobutu, the MPR was established on 20 May 1967.
Mobutism, also spelled Mobutuism, was an official party ideology of the Popular Movement of the Revolution as well as the official state ideology in Zaire during the latter half of the 20th century. Mobutism encompassed and glorified the thoughts, visions, and policies of Zairian president and self-proclaimed "Father of the Nation," Mobutu Sese Seko. The ideology included such major Mobutu initiatives as "Zairianization."
The Army for the Liberation of Rwanda was a rebel group largely composed of members of the Interahamwe and Armed Forces of Rwanda that carried out the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Operating mostly in the eastern regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo along the border with Rwanda, it carried out attacks throughout the Second Congo War against forces aligned with Rwanda and Uganda. In 2000, the ALiR agreed to merge with the Hutu resistance movement based in Kinshasa into the new Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). ALiR was largely supplanted by the FDLR by 2001.
Jean Nguza Karl-i-Bond was a prominent Zairian politician.
Law enforcement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has historically been focused on furthering the state's aims with no regard for human rights. The Police nationale congolaise is the police throughout the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It was composed of between 110,000 – 150,000 officers as of 2010.
Donatien Mahele Lieko Bokungu was a prominent Zairian general who served as the last army chief during the long reign of Mobutu Sese Seko.
The Manifesto of N'sele was a political document issued in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on 19 or 20 May 1967 which set out the official political stance of the Popular Movement of the Revolution, a political party which had been founded by Joseph-Désiré Mobutu in 1966. The manifesto was created at an MPR meeting in N'sele, Kinshasa where it was based.
The Constitution of Zaire, was promulgated on 15 August 1974, revised on 15 February 1978, and amended on 5 July 1990. Defining state power as an extension of the individual powers of Mobutu Sese Seko, the 1974 constitution codified Zaire as a one-party dictatorship and enshrined the status of Mobutism as the state ideology, together with the dominant position of the ruling Popular Movement of the Revolution (MPR) party. The 1974 constitution was the third in the Congo's post-independence history, replacing earlier constitutions adopted to replace the original basic law of 1960, adopted in 1964 and 1967.
This is a list of Chiefs of Staff of the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zaire.
Conscription in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is legal according to provisions in the current Constitution of the DRC, and formerly the Constitution of Zaire adopted in 1964. Although mandatory military service is not in effect in the DRC currently, many rebel groups and the Armed Forces have forced youths into service, including child soldiers.