- Politics and Social Issues
Democratic Republic of the Congo-A Ravaged Beauty (Part-1)
Genesis of Conflict
After a brutal and extreme regime of King Leopald II, the country was taken under direct rule of Belgium in 1908. From 1959, the situation started deteriorating in this region and Belgium started loosing control over it. There had been a serious outbreak of riot in Kinshasa in that year which the Belgian government failed to prevent or handle. In the wake of violence in different parts of the country, they were granted independence in June 1960. Joseph Kasavubu was nominated President of the state and Patrice Lumumba the Prime Minister. Within a month, a leader Moise Tshombe in the South Eastern province of Katanga declared independence and secession from DR Congo. Belgian troops were sent in shortly to protect Belgian citizen and mining interest. On the other hand, Kasavubu sacked Lumumba and arrested him. Lumumba was sent to Katanga where he was killed brutally in February 1962. This showed the extremity that the political leaders were up to and surfaced the rivalry among them.
Assassination of Patrice Lumumba
First UN Interference
As there was a grave political instability occurred in Katanga, UN sent in 5500 strong force in DRC in the year of 1960. They were only to monitor the ceasefire between the Katanga forces and the government forces. Shortly after deployment, UN troops mediated with the Tshombe group who agreed to give up arms and rejoin DR Congo. It was in 1963 when their disarmament started and in 1964, Tshombe was appointed as the Prime Minister of DRC.
Military Coup in 1965
Shortly after the Katanga crisis, the country again witnessed a military coup led by Joseph Mobutu, the then military chief. He ousted Kasavubu and Tshombe government and took control of the country. It was him who lasted in power for about three decades and was also known for his corruption and extravagant life-style. During his rule, there had been many mutinies which were effectively crushed by his loyalists. He renamed the country as Republic of Zaire. He nationalized most of the foreign owned companies and banned multi-party politics. He succeeded to introduce autocratic rule over this country and remained in power until 1997.
Clip from YouTube showing documentary on Mobutu
Since taking over the power from Kasavubu government through a coup, Mobutu received support from so called powerful countries like United States, France and United Kingdom. Many European countries also supported the coup leader and recognized his government. It was in 1973-74, when Mobutu nationalized many foreign-owned firms and forced European investors out of the country, the country sank into economic turmoil which he could not settle during his entire tenure in power. He desperately sought assistance from western countries but did not see any success. There was a rebellion in KAtanga where Angolan based rebels attacked Katanga in 1977, which he could suppress effectively with the help of French, Belgium and Moroccan military forces assistance. In 1989, Zaire defaults on loans from Belgium, resulting in a cancellation of development programs and increased deterioration of the economy. Mobutu agreed to end the ban on multiparty politics in 1990 and appointed a transitional government. Following riots in Kinshasa by unpaid soldiers in 1991, Mobutu agreed to form a coalition government with opposition leaders. Though the coalition was formed but he retained control of the security apparatus and important ministries. In 1994, he appointed Kengo Wa Dondo as prime minister, Finally in 1996-97, In the East, an anti-Mobutu government was formed by the rebels who captured much of the Eastern part of the country. The rebels succeeded to capture Kinshasa when Mobutu was away for treatment in abroad. Thus the Mobutu Regime came to an end in DR Congo.