Zaire

Zaire (/zɑːˈɪər/), 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.

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.

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.

Republic of Zairea

République du Zaïre  (French)
Repubilika ya Zaïre  (Kongo)
Republíki ya Zaïre  (Lingala)
Jamhuri ya Zaïre  (Swahili)
Ditunga dia Zaïre  (Luba-Katanga)
1971–1997
Coat of arms of Zaire
Coat of arms
Motto: Paix – Justice – Travail[1]  
"Peace – Justice – Work"
Anthem: La Zaïroise
"The Song of Zaire"
Location of Zaire
CapitalKinshasa
Common languages
Religion
Christianity, Baluba religion, Bantu religion
Demonym(s)Zairian
GovernmentMobutist one-partyc republic[2] under a totalitarian dictatorship (1971–90)
Multiparty state under a de facto military dictatorship (1990–97)
President 
• 1971–1997
Mobutu Sese Seko
Historical eraCold War
25 November 1965
• Country renamed
27 October 1971
16 May 1997
• Death of Mobutu
7 September 1997
Area
19962,345,410 km2 (905,570 sq mi)
Population
• 1996
46,498,539
CurrencyZaïre
Time zoneCET / EET
Calling code243
Internet TLD.zr
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Today part of Democratic Republic of the Congo
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,[3] 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,[4] 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.[5]

Etymology

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").[6] 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.[7]

History

Mobutu

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".

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.

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 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.

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, 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".

Africanisation of names

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,[8] 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. 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.

Totalitarian expansion

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.

Mobutu
Mobutu was the president of Zaire from 1965 to 1997.

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.

Centralisation of power

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.

Mobutu's Ministries, Departments or Commissariats

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.

Growing conflict

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.[9]

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.

First Congo War and demise

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 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 reverted the name of the country to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He marched unopposed into Kinshasa three days later.

Standards and abbreviations

Zaire's top-level domain was ".zr". It has since changed to ".cd".[10]

References

  1. ^ Constitution de la République du Zaïre, article 5: "Sa devise est : Paix — Justice — Travail". Source: Journal Officiel de la République du Zaïre (N. 1 du 1er janvier 1983)
  2. ^ Thomas Turner, "Flying High Above the Toads: Mobutu and Stalemated Democracy", in Political Reform in Francophone Africa (1997), ed. John F. Clark and David E. Gardinier, page 70.
  3. ^ Kaplan, Irving (ed.). Zaire: A Country Study. Third Edition, First Printing. 1979.
  4. ^ Sandra W. Meditz and Tim Merrill (eds.). Zaire: A Country Study. Fourth Edition. 1993.
  5. ^ Complete text of the Zairian constitution after the enactment of Law No. 90-002 of 5 July 1990 concerning the modification of certain provisions of the Constitution
  6. ^ Forbath, Peter. The River Congo (1977), p. 19.
  7. ^ James Barbot, An Abstract of a Voyage to Congo River, Or the Zair and to Cabinde in the Year 1700 (1746). James Hingston Tuckey, Narrative of an Expedition to Explore the River Zaire, Usually Called the Congo, in South Africa, in 1816 (1818). "Congo River, called Zahir or Zaire by the natives" John Purdy, Memoir, Descriptive and Explanatory, to Accompany the New Chart of the Ethiopic Or Southern Atlantic Ocean, 1822, p. 112.
  8. ^ Emizet Francois Kisangani; Scott F. Bobb (2010). "Historical Dictionary of the Democratic Republic of the Congo". Scarecrow Press. p. i. Retrieved 29 April 2016.
  9. ^ "Zaire's Mobutu Visits America", by Michael Johns, Heritage Foundation Executive Memorandum #239, June 29, 1989. Archived July 15, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ "IANA Report on Deletion of the .zr Top-Level Domain". Internet Assigned Numbers Authority. 20 June 2001. Retrieved on 11 June 2009.

Further reading and external links

Media related to Zaire at Wikimedia Commons

.zr

.zr is the former Internet country code top-level domain (ccTLD) 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 deleted.

Congo River

The great Congo River (French: Fleuve Congo; Portuguese: rio Congo; Kongo: Nzâdi Kôngo), 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).

Measured along with the Lualaba, the main tributary, the Congo River has a total length of 4,370 km (2,715 mi). It is the only river to cross the equator twice. The Congo Basin has a total area of about 4,000,000 km2 (1,500,000 sq mi), or 13% of the entire African landmass.

DR Congo national football team

The Democratic Republic of the Congo national football team (formerly known as Zaire, alternatively known as Congo-Kinshasa) is the national team of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and is controlled by the Fédération Congolaise de Football-Association (FECOFA). They are nicknamed the Leopards.DR Congo have been ranked as high as 28 in the FIFA Rankings. As Zaire they were the first Sub-Saharan African team to qualify for the FIFA World Cup and twice won the Africa Cup of Nations.

Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (pronunciation French: République démocratique du Congo [kɔ̃ɡo]), also known as DR Congo, the DRC, Congo-Kinshasa, or simply the Congo, is the southernmost country located in Central Africa. It is sometimes referred to by its former name of Zaire, which was its official name between 1971 and 1997. The DRC borders the Central African Republic to the north; South Sudan to the northeast; Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania to the east; Zambia to the south; Angola to the southwest; and the Republic of the Congo and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. It is, by area, the largest country in Sub-Saharan Africa, the second-largest in all of Africa (after Algeria), 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.

Centred on the Congo Basin, the territory of the DRC was first inhabited by Central African foragers around 90,000 years ago and was reached by the Bantu expansion about 3,000 years ago. In the west, the Kingdom of Kongo ruled around the mouth of the Congo River from the 14th to 19th centuries. In the centre and east, the kingdoms of Luba and Lunda ruled from the 16th and 17th centuries to the 19th century. In the 1870s, just before the onset of the Scramble for Africa, European exploration of the Congo Basin was carried out, first led by Henry Morton Stanley under the sponsorship of King Leopold II of Belgium. Leopold formally acquired rights to the Congo territory at the Berlin Conference in 1885 and made the land his private property, naming it the Congo Free State. During the Free State, the colonial military unit, the Force Publique, forced the local population to produce rubber, and from 1885 to 1908, millions of Congolese died as a consequence of disease and exploitation. In 1908, Belgium, despite initial reluctance, formally annexed the Free State, which became the Belgian Congo.

The Belgian Congo achieved independence on 30 June 1960 under the name Republic of the Congo. Congolese nationalist Patrice Lumumba was elected the first Prime Minister, while Joseph Kasa-Vubu became the first President. Conflict arose over the administration of the territory, which became known as the Congo Crisis. The provinces of Katanga, under Moïse Tshombe, and South Kasai attempted to secede. After Lumumba turned to the Soviet Union for assistance in the crisis, the U.S. and Belgium became wary and oversaw his removal from office by Kasa-Vubu on 5 September and ultimate execution by Belgian-led Katangese troops on 17 January 1961. On 25 November 1965, Army Chief of Staff Joseph-Désiré Mobutu, who later renamed himself Mobutu Sese Seko, officially came into power through a coup d'état. In 1971, he renamed the country Zaire. The country was run as a dictatorial one-party state, with his Popular Movement of the Revolution as the sole legal party. Mobutu's government received considerable support from the United States, due to its anti-communist stance during the Cold War. By the early 1990s, Mobutu's government began to weaken. Destabilisation in the east resulting from the 1994 Rwandan genocide and disenfranchisement among the eastern Banyamulenge (Congolese Tutsi) population led to a 1996 invasion led by Tutsi FPR-ruled Rwanda, which began the First Congo War.On 17 May 1997, Laurent-Désiré Kabila, a leader of Tutsi forces from the province of South Kivu, became President after Mobutu fled to Morocco, reverting the country's name to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Tensions between President Kabila and the Rwandan and Tutsi presence in the country led to the Second Congo War from 1998 to 2003. Ultimately, nine African countries and around twenty armed groups became involved in the war, which resulted in the deaths of 5.4 million people. The two wars devastated the country. President Laurent-Désiré Kabila was assassinated by one of his bodyguards on 16 January 2001 and was succeeded eight days later as President by his son Joseph.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is extremely rich in natural resources but has had political instability, a lack of infrastructure, issues with corruption and centuries of both commercial and colonial extraction and exploitation with little holistic development. Besides the capital Kinshasa, the two next largest cities Lubumbashi and Mbuji-Mayi are both mining communities. DR Congo's largest export is raw minerals, with China accepting over 50% of DRC's exports in 2012. In 2016, DR Congo's level of human development was ranked 176th out of 187 countries by the Human Development Index. As of 2018, around 600,000 Congolese have fled to neighbouring countries from conflicts in the centre and east of the DRC. Two million children risk starvation, and the fighting has displaced 4.5 million people. The sovereign state is a member of the United Nations, Non-Aligned Movement, African Union and COMESA.

Ebola virus

Ebola virus (; EBOV, in the species Zaire ebolavirus) is one of six known viruses within the genus Ebolavirus. Four of the six known ebolaviruses, including EBOV, cause a severe and often fatal hemorrhagic fever in humans and other mammals, known as Ebola virus disease (EVD). Ebola virus has caused the majority of human deaths from EVD, and is the cause of the 2013–2015 Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa, which resulted in at least 28,616 suspected cases and 11,310 confirmed deaths.Ebola virus and its genus were both originally named for Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo), the country where it was first described, and was at first suspected to be a new "strain" of the closely related Marburg virus. The virus was renamed "Ebola virus" in 2010 to avoid confusion. Ebola virus is the single member of the species Zaire ebolavirus, which is the type species for the genus Ebolavirus, family Filoviridae, order Mononegavirales. The natural reservoir of Ebola virus is believed to be bats, particularly fruit bats, and it is primarily transmitted between humans and from animals to humans through body fluids.The EBOV genome is a single-stranded RNA approximately 19,000 nucleotides long. It encodes seven structural proteins: nucleoprotein (NP), polymerase cofactor (VP35), (VP40), GP, transcription activator (VP30), VP24, and RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (L).Because of its high mortality rate (up to 83-90%), EBOV is also listed as a select agent, World Health Organization Risk Group 4 Pathogen (requiring Biosafety Level 4-equivalent containment), a U.S. National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Category A Priority Pathogen, U.S. CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Category A Bioterrorism Agent, and listed as a Biological Agent for Export Control by the Australia Group.

Ebola virus disease

Ebola virus disease (EVD), also known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) or simply Ebola, is a viral hemorrhagic fever of humans and other primates caused by ebolaviruses. Signs and symptoms typically start between two days and three weeks after contracting the virus with a fever, sore throat, muscular pain, and headaches. Vomiting, diarrhea and rash usually follow, along with decreased function of the liver and kidneys. At this time, some people begin to bleed both internally and externally. The disease has a high risk of death, killing between 25 and 90 percent of those infected, with an average of about 50 percent. This is often due to low blood pressure from fluid loss, and typically follows six to sixteen days after symptoms appear.The virus spreads through direct contact with body fluids, such as blood from infected humans or other animals. Spread may also occur from contact with items recently contaminated with bodily fluids. Spread of the disease through the air between primates, including humans, has not been documented in either laboratory or natural conditions. Semen or breast milk of a person after recovery from EVD may carry the virus for several weeks to months. Fruit bats are believed to be the normal carrier in nature, able to spread the virus without being affected by it. Other diseases such as malaria, cholera, typhoid fever, meningitis and other viral hemorrhagic fevers may resemble EVD. Blood samples are tested for viral RNA, viral antibodies or for the virus itself to confirm the diagnosis.Control of outbreaks requires coordinated medical services and community engagement. This includes rapid detection, contact tracing of those who have been exposed, quick access to laboratory services, care for those infected, and proper disposal of the dead through cremation or burial. Samples of body fluids and tissues from people with the disease should be handled with special caution. Prevention includes limiting the spread of disease from infected animals to humans by handling potentially infected bushmeat only while wearing protective clothing, and by thoroughly cooking bushmeat before eating it. It also includes wearing proper protective clothing and washing hands when around a person with the disease. An Ebola vaccine has been studied in Africa with promising results. No specific treatment is available, although a number of potential treatments are being studied. Supportive efforts, however, improve outcomes. This includes either oral rehydration therapy (drinking slightly sweetened and salty water) or giving intravenous fluids as well as treating symptoms.The disease was first identified in 1976 in two simultaneous outbreaks: one in Nzara (a town in South Sudan) and the other in Yambuku (Democratic Republic of the Congo), a village near the Ebola River from which the disease takes its name. EVD outbreaks occur intermittently in tropical regions of sub-Saharan Africa. Between 1976 and 2013, the World Health Organization reports a total of 24 outbreaks involving 1,716 cases. The largest outbreak to date was the epidemic in West Africa, which occurred from December 2013 to January 2016 with 28,616 cases and 11,310 deaths. It was declared no longer an emergency on 29 March 2016. Other outbreaks in Africa began in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in May 2017, and 2018.

First Congo War

The First Congo War (1996–1997), also nicknamed Africa's First World War, was a foreign invasion of Zaire led by Rwanda that replaced President Mobutu Sésé Seko with the rebel leader Laurent-Désiré Kabila. Destabilization in eastern Zaire resulting from the Rwandan genocide was the final factor that caused numerous internal and external factors to align against the corrupt and inept government in the capital, Kinshasa.

The new government renamed the country Democratic Republic of the Congo, but it brought little true change. Kabila alienated his Rwandan and Ugandan allies. To avert a coup, Kabila expelled all Rwandan and Ugandan forces from the Congo. This event was a major cause of the Second Congo War the following year. Some experts prefer to view the two conflicts as one war.

Flag of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The national flag of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is a sky blue flag, adorned with a yellow star in the upper left canton and cut diagonally by a red stripe with a yellow fimbriation. It was adopted on 20 February 2006. A new constitution, ratified in December 2005 and which came into effect in February 2006, promoted a return to a flag similar to that flown between 1963 and 1971, with a change from a royal blue to sky blue background. Blue represents peace. Red stands for "the blood of the country's martyrs", yellow the country's wealth; and the star a radiant future for the country. (subscription required)

Kongo Central

Kongo Central, formerly Bas-Congo, is one of the 26 provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Its capital is Matadi.

List of heads of state of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

This article lists the heads of state of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) since the country's independence in 1960.

The current head of state is President Joseph Kabila, since 17 January 2001.

The incoming head of state is President–elect Félix Tshisekedi, since January 2019.

Mobutu Sese Seko

Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga (; born Joseph-Désiré Mobutu; 14 October 1930 – 7 September 1997) was the military dictator and President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (which he renamed Zaire in 1971) from 1965 to 1997. He also served as Chairman of the Organisation of African Unity in 1967–1968.

During the Congo Crisis, Mobutu, serving as chief of staff of the army and supported by Belgium and the United States, deposed the nationalist democratically elected government of Patrice Lumumba in 1960. Mobutu installed a government that arranged for Lumumba's execution in 1961. Mobutu continued to lead the country's armed forces until he took power directly in a second coup in 1965. As part of his program of "national authenticity", he changed the Congo's name to Zaire in 1971, and his own name to Mobutu Sese Seko in 1972.

Mobutu developed a totalitarian regime, amassed vast personal wealth, and attempted to purge the country of all colonial cultural influence. At the same time, he was given considerable support by the West and China, owing to his strong anti-Soviet stance. He was the object of a pervasive cult of personality. During his reign, Mobutu amassed a large personal fortune through economic exploitation and corruption, leading some to call his rule a "kleptocracy". The nation suffered from uncontrolled inflation, a large debt, and massive currency devaluations. By 1991, economic deterioration and unrest led him to agree to share power with opposition leaders, but he used the army to thwart change until May 1997, when rebel forces led by Laurent-Désiré Kabila expelled him from the country. Already suffering from advanced prostate cancer, he died three months later in Morocco.

Marshal Mobutu became notorious for corruption, nepotism, and the embezzlement of between US$4 billion and $15 billion during his reign. He was known for extravagances such as shopping trips to Paris via the supersonic and expensive Concorde. He presided over the country for more than three decades, a period of widespread human rights violations.

Orientale Province

Orientale (French: Province orientale) (also Oriental; formerly Haut-Zaïre, then Haut-Congo) is one of the eleven former provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The province lay in the northeast of the country. It bordered Équateur to the west, Kasaï-Oriental province to the southwest, Maniema to the south, and North Kivu to the southeast. It also bordered the Central African Republic and South Sudan to the north, and Uganda to the east. The provincial capital is Kisangani.

The province was divided into the Bas-Uele, Haut-Uele and Tshopo districts and the Ituri Interim Administration. These became provinces in 2015 under the 2006 constitution.

Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (French: Premier-ministre de la République démocratique du Congo, Swahili: Waziri Mkuu wa Jamhuri ya Kidemokrasia ya Kongo, Lingala: Minisele ya Yambo wa Republiki ya Kɔ́ngɔ Demokratiki), is Congo's head of government.

Province of the Anglican Church of the Congo

The Province of the Anglican Church of the Congo (French: Province de l'Église anglicane du Congo) is a province of the Anglican Communion, stretching over the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo.

Republic of the Congo (Léopoldville)

The Republic of the Congo (French: République du 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 (after its capital) 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.

On 1 August 1964, the state's official name was changed to Democratic Republic of the Congo. In 1971, the state's name changed to Zaire.

The period between 1960 and 1965 is referred to as the First Congolese Republic, and the current Democratic Republic of the Congo is the Third Republic.

Unrest and rebellion continued to plague the government until 1965, when Lieutenant General Joseph Désiré Mobutu, commander-in-chief of the national army, seized control of the country. Mobutu changed the country's name to the Republic of Zaire in 1971 and remained its president until 1997.

Soyo

Soyo (formerly known as Santo António do Zaire) is a city located in the province of Zaire in Angola, at the mouth of the Congo river. Soyo recently became the largest oil-producing region in the country, with an estimate of 1,200,000 barrels per day (190,000 m3/d).

Zaire Province

Zaire is one of the 18 provinces of Angola. It occupies 40,130 square kilometres (15,490 sq mi) in the north west of the country and has a population of about 600,000 inhabitants. It is bordered on the west by the Atlantic Ocean, on the north by the Democratic Republic of Congo, on the east by the Uíge Province, and on the south by the Bengo Province.

Zaire Use

The Zaire Use (French: Rite zaïrois) or Roman Missal for the Dioceses of Zaire is a variation of the common Mass of the Roman Catholic Church. While containing many of the elements of the Ordinary Form of the Mass of the Roman Rite, it incorporates elements from sub-Saharan African culture, a process referred to as "inculturation". Promulgated by the decree Zairensium on April 30, 1988, by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Missel romain pour les diocèses du Zaïre (Roman Missal for the Dioceses of Zaire) is an attempt to inculturate the Roman Missal in an African context, inspired by the liturgical reform initiated at the Second Vatican Council.

Zaire at the 1996 Summer Olympics

Zaire (now called the Democratic Republic of the Congo) competed at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, United States.

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