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Zaire

Zaire

Overview
The Republic of Zaire (icon; za.iʁ) was the name of the present Democratic Republic of the Congo
Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a state located in Central Africa. It is the second largest country in Africa by area and the eleventh largest in the world...

 between 27 October 1971 and 17 May 1997. The name of Zaire derives from the , itself an adaptation of the Kongo
Kongo language
The Kongo language, or Kikongo, is the Bantu language spoken by the Bakongo and Bandundu 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 and formed the base for Kituba, a Bantu creole and lingua franca...

 word nzere or nzadi, or "the river that swallows all rivers".

In 1965, as in 1960
Congo Crisis
The Congo Crisis was a period of turmoil in the First Republic of the Congo that began with national independence from Belgium and ended with the seizing of power by Joseph Mobutu...

, the division of power between president and prime minister led to a stalemate and threatened the country's stability.
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Timeline

1965   Joseph Désiré Mobutu seizes power in the Congo and becomes President; he rules the country (which he renames Zaire in 1971) for over 30 years, until being overthrown by rebels in 1997.

1971   The Democratic Republic of the Congo is renamed Zaire.

1974   The Rumble in the Jungle boxing match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman takes place in Kinshasa, Zaire.

1978   In Zaire, rebels occupy the city of Kolwezi, the mining center of the province of Shaba (now known as Katanga). The local government asks the U.S.A., France and Belgium to restore order.

1992   Rebel forces occupy Zaire's national radio station in Kinshasa and broadcast a demand for the government's resignation.

1994   Rwandan Genocide: Military advisor to the United Nations Secretary-General and head of the Military Division of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations of the United Nations Maurice Baril recommends that the UN multi-national forces in Zaire stand down.

1996   An Antonov 32 cargo turboprop powered plane crashes into the central market in Kinshasa, Zaire killing more than 350 people.

1996   Lt. Gen. Maurice Baril of Canada arrives in Africa to lead a multi-national policing force in Zaire.

1997   Troops of Laurent Kabila march into Kinshasa. Zaire is officially renamed Democratic Republic of the Congo.

 
Encyclopedia
The Republic of Zaire (icon; za.iʁ) was the name of the present Democratic Republic of the Congo
Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a state located in Central Africa. It is the second largest country in Africa by area and the eleventh largest in the world...

 between 27 October 1971 and 17 May 1997. The name of Zaire derives from the , itself an adaptation of the Kongo
Kongo language
The Kongo language, or Kikongo, is the Bantu language spoken by the Bakongo and Bandundu 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 and formed the base for Kituba, a Bantu creole and lingua franca...

 word nzere or nzadi, or "the river that swallows all rivers".

Self-proclaimed Father of the Nation


In 1965, as in 1960
Congo Crisis
The Congo Crisis was a period of turmoil in the First Republic of the Congo that began with national independence from Belgium and ended with the seizing of power by Joseph Mobutu...

, the division of power between president and prime minister 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 Congo (Léopoldville), restructuring the state on more than one occasion, and claiming the title of "Father of the Nation".

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 Sésé Seko Nkuku 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
Constitution
A constitution is a set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed. These rules together make up, i.e. constitute, what the entity is...

 in 1974. 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 rocks breaker one") system.

Constitutional changes


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 centralized 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
Supreme court
A supreme court is the highest court within the hierarchy of many legal jurisdictions. Other descriptions for such courts include court of last resort, instance court, judgment court, high court, or apex 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
Popular Movement of the Revolution
The Popular Movement of the Revolution was a Zairian political party established on May 20, 1967 by then-President Joseph-Désiré Mobutu .-Ideology:...

 (Mouvement Populaire de la Révolution—MPR) on 17 April 1967, marking the emergence of "the nation politically organized." Rather than being the emanation of the state
Emanation of the state
Emanation of the state is a term used in European law to describe any body which provides a public service under the control of government. The term was defined by the European Court of Justice in Foster, A and others v. British Gas plc...

, 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 organizations. In short, the MPR became the sole legitimate vehicle for participating in the political life of the country and all Zairians were considered to be members by birth. Or, as one official put it, "the MPR must be considered as a Church and its Founder as its Messiah."

Mobutism



The doctrinal foundation was disclosed shortly after its birth, in the form of the Manifesto of N'Sele (so named because it was issued from the president's rural residence at N'Sele, sixty 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
Mobutism
Mobutism 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...

". Nationalism
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

 implied the achievement of economic independence. Revolution
Revolution
A revolution is a fundamental change in power or organizational structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time.Aristotle described two types of political revolution:...

, described as a "truly national revolution, essentially pragmatic," meant "the repudiation of both capitalism
Capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

 and communism
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

." Thus, "neither right nor left" became one of the legitimizing 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 in 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
Congo River
The Congo River is a river in Africa, and is the deepest river in the world, with measured depths in excess of . It is the second largest river in the world by volume of water discharged, though it has only one-fifth the volume of the world's largest river, the Amazon...

 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 Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

n names and many cities were also renamed. Some of the conversions are as follows:
  • Léopoldville became Kinshasa
    Kinshasa
    Kinshasa is the capital and largest city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The city is located on the Congo River....

  • Stanleyville became Kisangani
    Kisangani
    Kisangani is the capital of Orientale Province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is the 3rd largest urbanized city in the country and the largest of the cities that lie in the tropical woodlands of the Congo....

  • Elisabethville became Lubumbashi
    Lubumbashi
    Lubumbashi is the second largest city in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, second only to the nation's capital Kinshasa, and the hub of the southeastern part of the country. The copper-mining city serves as the capital of the relatively prosperous Katanga Province, lying near the Zambian border...

  • Jadotville became Likasi
    Likasi
    Likasi, formerly known as Jadotville or Jadotstad, is a city in Haut-Katanga Province, in the south-east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.-Demographics:Likasi has a population of around 367,000...

  • Albertville became Kalemie
    Kalemie
    Kalemie, formerly Albertville/Albertstad, is a town on the western shore of Lake Tanganyika in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The town is next to the exit of the Lukuga River flowing out from Lake Tanganyika to the Lualaba River....



Additionally, the zaïre
Zairean zaire
The zaïre was the unit of currency of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and then of the Republic of Zaïre from 1967 until 1997. There were two distinct currencies.-Zaïre, 1967-1993:...

 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. As a result, it was common practice to write cash amounts with three zeros after the decimal place, even after inflation had greatly devalued the currency. Many other geographic name changes had already taken place, between 1966 and 1971. The adoption of Zairian, as opposed to Western
Western culture
Western culture, sometimes equated with Western civilization or European civilization, refers to cultures of European origin and is used very broadly to refer to a heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, religious beliefs, political systems, and specific artifacts and...

 or Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

, names in 1972 and the abandonment of Western dress in favor of the wearing of the abacost
Abacost
The abacost, abbreviation for the French "à bas le costume" , was the distinctive wear for men that was promoted by Mobutu Sese Seko as part of his Zairianisation programme in the Democratic Republic of Congo, between 1972 and 1990. Zairians were banned from wearing suits with shirt and tie to...

 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
Modernity
Modernity typically refers to a post-traditional, post-medieval historical period, one marked by the move from feudalism toward capitalism, industrialization, secularization, rationalization, the nation-state and its constituent institutions and forms of surveillance...

, authenticity is perhaps best seen as an effort to reconcile the claims of the traditional Zairian culture with the exigencies of modernization
Modernization
In the social sciences, modernization or modernisation refers to a model of an evolutionary transition from a 'pre-modern' or 'traditional' to a 'modern' society. The teleology of modernization is described in social evolutionism theories, existing as a template that has been generally followed by...

. 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 legitimizing formula, in particular its selfserving qualities and inherent vagueness; nonetheless, the MPR's ideological training center, 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 mobilize 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.

Authoritarian expansion


Translating the concept of "the nation politically organized" into reality implied a major expansion of state control of civil society
Civil society
Civil society is composed of the totality of many voluntary social relationships, civic and social organizations, and institutions that form the basis of a functioning society, as distinct from the force-backed structures of a state , the commercial institutions of the market, and private criminal...

. It meant, to begin with, the incorporation of youth groups and worker organizations 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
National Union of Congolese Workers
-External links:*...

 (Union Nationale des Travailleurs Zaïrois—UNTZA), which brought together into a single organizational 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 centered. By appointing key labor 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 mobilizing 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
Mass media
Mass media refers collectively to all media technologies which are intended to reach a large audience via mass communication. Broadcast media transmit their information electronically and comprise of television, film and radio, movies, CDs, DVDs and some other gadgets like cameras or video consoles...

, and in December 1971 Mobutu proceeded to emasculate the power of the churches. From then on, only three churches were recognized: the Church of Christ in Zaire (L'Église du Christ au Zaïre), the Kimbanguist Church
Kimbanguism
Kimbanguism is a branch of Christianity founded by Simon Kimbangu in what was then the Belgian Congo . The church's name is the Kimbanguist Church , and is a large, independent African Initiated...

, and the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

. Nationalization of the universities of Kinshasa
University of Kinshasa
The University of Kinshasa , was one of three universities, along with University of Kisangani and University of Lubumbashi, created following the division of the National University of Zaire...

 and Kisangani
University of Kisangani
The University of Kisangani is located in the city of Kisangani in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It was founded in 1963 by Protestant missionaries as the Free University of Congo; it was transformed into part of the National University of Zaire in 1971, and in 1981 was separated from that...

, 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
Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

, 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 unrecognized religious sects were dissolved and their leaders jailed.

Mobutu was careful also to suppress all institutions that could mobilize 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 organized in Kasai
Kasai region
The Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is divided administratively into Kasai-Occidental and Kasai-Oriental. It shares its name with the Kasai River....

 in 1953 in reaction to the growing political and economic influence in Kasai of the rival Luba
Luba
Luba may refer to:*Slavic origin feminine name which means "someone who has love"*Luba, Equatorial Guinea*Luba, Abra, a municipality in the Philippines*Ľubá, a village and municipality in the Nitra region of south-west Slovakia...

 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
Kinshasa
Kinshasa is the capital and largest city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The city is located on the Congo River....

. The principle of centralization 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, centralized 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 centralization. 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 recognized; instead, all chiefs were to be appointed and controlled by the state via the administrative hierarchy. By then, the process of centralization had theoretically eliminated all preexisting centers of local autonomy.

The analogy with the colonial state becomes even more compelling if we take into account 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
Communalism
Communalism is a term with three distinct meanings according to the Random House Unabridged Dictionary'.'These include "a theory of government or a system of government in which independent communes participate in a federation". "the principles and practice of communal ownership"...

 and solidarity inherent in the traditional society, Salongo was intended to mobilize the population into the performance of collective work "with enthusiasm and without constraint." But, in fact Salongo was forced labor. The conspicuous lack of popular enthusiasm for Salongo led to widespread resistance and foot dragging, causing many local administrators to look the other way. Although failure to comply carried penalties of one month to six months in jail, 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.

Mobutist nomenklatura


In the 1970s and 1980s, Mobutu's government relied on a selected pool of technocrats from which the Head of State drew, and periodically rotated, competent individuals. They comprised the Executive Council and led the full spectrum of Ministries or, as they were then called, State 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 the Head of State, Mobutu, who, incidentally retained the most sensitive ministerial portfolios, such as Defense, for himself.

Growing conflict


Relative peace and stability prevailed until 1977 and 1978 when Katangan rebels, based in Angola
Angola
Angola, officially the Republic of Angola , is a country in south-central Africa bordered by Namibia on the south, the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the north, and Zambia on the east; its west coast is on the Atlantic Ocean with Luanda as its capital city...

, launched a series of invasions, sometimes known as Shaba I
Shaba I
Shaba I was a conflict between the neighbouring states of Zaire and Angola in 1977, and was arguably a consequence of Zaire's support for the FNLA and UNITA factions in the Angolan Civil War....

, into the Shaba
Shaba
Shaba may refer to:* Shaba, Kenya* Shaba National Reserve in Kenya* Shaba Province, name of Katanga Province in present DR Congo between 1971 and 1997* variant spelling of Shebaa`* Shaba Games...

 (Katanga) region. The rebels were driven out with the aid of French and Belgian paratroopers.

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
Union pour la démocratie et le progrès social
Union pour la démocratie et le progrès social can refer to:* Union for Democracy and Social Progress * Union for Democracy and Social Progress * Union for Democracy and Social Progress...

 (UDPS), were active. Mobutu's attempts to quell these groups drew significant international criticism.

As the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 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
Embezzlement
Embezzlement is the act of dishonestly appropriating or secreting assets by one or more individuals to whom such assets have been entrusted....

 of government funds for personal use. In June 1989, Mobutu visited Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

, 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
George H. W. Bush
George Herbert Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 41st President of the United States . He had previously served as the 43rd Vice President of the United States , a congressman, an ambassador, and Director of Central Intelligence.Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts, to...

.

In May 1990, Mobutu agreed to the principle of a multi-party system
Multi-party system
A multi-party system is a system in which multiple political parties have the capacity to gain control of government separately or in coalition, e.g.The Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition in the United Kingdom formed in 2010. The effective number of parties in a multi-party system is normally...

 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
Kengo Wa Dondo
Léon Kengo Wa Dondo 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...

 as prime minister. Although presidential and legislative elections were scheduled repeatedly over the next 2 years, they never took place.

First Congo War


By 1996, tensions from the neighboring Rwanda
Rwanda
Rwanda or , officially the Republic of Rwanda , is a country in central and eastern Africa with a population of approximately 11.4 million . Rwanda is located a few degrees south of the Equator, and is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo...

 war and genocide had spilled over to Zaire (see History of Rwanda
History of Rwanda
Human occupation of Rwanda is thought to have begun shortly after the last ice age. By the fifteenth century the inhabitants had organized into a number of kingdoms...

). Rwandan Hutu
Hutu
The Hutu , or Abahutu, are a Central African people, living mainly in Rwanda, Burundi, and eastern DR Congo.-Population statistics:The Hutu are the largest of the three peoples in Burundi and Rwanda; according to the United States Central Intelligence Agency, 84% of Rwandans and 85% of Burundians...

 militia forces (Interahamwe
Interahamwe
The Interahamwe is a Hutu paramilitary organization. The militia enjoyed the backing of the Hutu-led government leading up to, during, and after the Rwandan Genocide. Since the genocide, they have been forced out of Rwanda, and have sought asylum in Congo...

), who had fled Rwanda following the ascension of an RPF
Rwandan Patriotic Front
The Rwandan Patriotic Front abbreviated as RPF is the current ruling political party of Rwanda, led by President Paul Kagame. It governs in a coalition with other parties...

-led government, had been using Hutu refugee camps in eastern Zaire as a basis 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. In turn, these 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
First Congo War
The First Congo War was a revolution in Zaire that replaced President Mobutu Sésé Seko, a decades-long dictator, with rebel leader Laurent-Désiré Kabila. Destabilization in eastern Zaire that resulted from the Rwandan genocide was the final factor that caused numerous internal and external actors...

.

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
Laurent-Désiré Kabila
Laurent-Désiré Kabila was President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from May 17, 1997, when he overthrew Mobutu Sese Seko, until his assassination by his bodyguards on January 18, 2001...

, 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. Following failed peace talks between Mobutu and Kabila in May 1997, Mobutu fled the country, and Kabila marched unopposed to Kinshasa on May 20. Kabila named himself president, consolidated power around himself and the AFDL, and reverted the name of the country to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Standards and abbreviations


In computing, Zaire's top-level domain
Top-level domain
A top-level domain is one of the domains at the highest level in the hierarchical Domain Name System of the Internet. The top-level domain names are installed in the root zone of the name space. For all domains in lower levels, it is the last part of the domain name, that is, the last label of a...

 was ".zr
.zr
.zr is the former Internet country code top-level domain for Zaire. Because Zaire was renamed Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1997, .zr was phased out and .cd took its place. In 2001, .zr was finally terminated.-External links:* , 20 June 2001...

". It has since changed to ".cd
.cd
.cd is the Internet country code top-level domain for the Democratic Republic of Congo. It was created in 1997 as a replacement for the .zr ccTLD, which was phased out and eventually deleted in 2001....

".

Further reading and external links