MOBUTU SESE SEKO (1930-1997) WAS THE SECOND PRESIDENT OF THE CONGO (ZAIRE).HE SET UP A DICTATORIAL KLEPTOCRACY 32 YEARS.LAURENT KABILA AND A REBEL ARMY FORCED HIM OUT OF THE COUNTRY AND TOOK POWER,LEAVING HIM IN EXILE IN MOROCCO,WHERE HE DID THREE MONTHS LATER.

The late Zairian President, Mobutu Sese Seko  ruled the country known nowadays as the Democratic Republic of Congo from 1965 to 1997. He is known for spreading the Mobutism ideology in the country and for implying a mono party rule.As a soldier, Mobutu developed a passion for literature and started writing for Actualités Africaines, a magazine set by Belgian colonial. After his service, he became a full-time journalist for l’avenir, a daily magazine in Leopoldville. His work in journalism, allowed him to meet several Congolese intellectuals who dreamt of bringing independence to the country. At that time, he joined Partice Lumumba’s movement called MNC, Mouvement National Congolais. He formed a close link with Lumumba, in 1957 and became his secretary.

Mobutu Sese Seko was born Joseph Désiré Mobutu on Oct. 14, 1930, at Lisala.  Although his ascendancy was Ngbandi (a non-Bantu tribe of Sudanese origin), he grew up among the Bantu-speaking riverine peoples of the Congo who are commonly referred to as Bangala. He attended a secondary school run by Catholic missionaries at Coquilhatville (later Mbandaka) and after being dismissed for insubordination was drafted into the Force Publique in 1950. His father was a cook, who died when Mobutu was a child, and his mother was a maid in a hotel. She used her earnings to send him to a Christian Brothers Catholic boarding school for his education. In 1949 he joined the Force Publique, an internal security force of Congolese troops but with Belgian officers, and rose to sergeant. He stayed there for seven years, leaving to become a newspaper reporter. It was in that position that he met Congolese nationalist Patrice Lumumba, and Mobutu was so taken with him that he joined Lumumba's political party, the Congolese National Movement (MNC).The late dictator of the vast African country, renamed Democratic Republic of Congo after his overthrow, is buried in the European cemetery of the Moroccan capital without the fanfare associated with Mobutu during his rule.General Joseph-Desire Mobutu staged a coup in the former Belgian colony in 1965. He renamed the country Zaire and himself Mobutu Sese Seko.The 1994 genocide in Rwanda and the breakdown of order in Burundi that began in 1993 indirectly helped cause Mobutu's final downfall. More than one million refugees fled into Zaire's eastern border regions, unsettling the local population and reviving dormant feuds.Mobutu Sese Seko, Zaire's longtime dictator and the last of a generation of cold war rulers who grew fabulously rich by providing a bulwark against Communism.He built his political longevity on three pillars: violence, cunning and the use of state funds to buy off enemies. His systematic looting of the national treasury and major industries gave birth to the term ''kleptocracy'' to describe a reign of official corruption that reputedly made him one of the world's wealthiest heads of state.With the support of the army he/she took power in September 1960, suspended the Constitution for three months, Lumumba jailed and banned all political activities. It remained the highest judiciary in the country until February 1961, the date on which the Government gave to Kasavubu. Became involved him in the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, who disappeared in mysterious circumstances in the province of Katanga. Kasavubu confirmed you as Chief of the General staff, since he/she tried to carry out the modernization and reorganization of the army. It gave a coup in November 1965 with the help of the army, to escalate clashes between supporters between President Kasavubu and Prime Minister Moses Tshombe, after which he/she became the owner of the country. Proclaimed himself President and appointed Prime Minister Leonard Mulamba.Although initially stated that it was only intended to retain power for a period of five years, while he/she considered necessary to restore order in the country, began to take a series of measures to consolidate power. He/She did all the members of the management and the Government to respond directly to him for their actions. It banned political parties and all that to appear contrary to its action was imprisoned or killed. In a decree issued in March 1966 it extended the period of its mandate and assumed all the powers of the Prime Minister, who had ceased. Mobutu founded the Popular Movement of the revolution, which became the only party in the country. In 1967, he/she had to deal with a revolt of the mercenaries who constituted an important group in the Congolese army.Plebiscite in which was the only candidate, confirmed you as President in 1970. He began to establish a sort of cult towards him, and all his actions and words were considered sacred and should be obeyed; Moreover, the decrees of the Government came to refer to him with the nickname of Messiah. In 1971 he started a program in order to Congo what he called African authenticity. Within this plan changed the name of the country, which up to then was called Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zaire, and his Joseph-Desire, by the of Sese Seko ('El Cesar'). In 1973 he/she undertook the nationalization of the main sectors of the Zairean economy, with special attention to the copper mines of Katanga, but the economic crisis in which the country because of this decision, was involved forced him in 1976 to allow the entry of foreign capital.He was confirmed in his post in 1977, but by then the corruption had become an endemic aspect in the Zairean administration, of which the main beneficiary was the own Mobutu, who became one of the biggest fortunes of the country. A new plebiscite, fully rigged, returned to confirm him as President in 1984. With the intention to end the pressures received from the opposition and the international community, it included civilians in some of the main jobs of the Administration and the Government. Despite this, he/she was forced to convene multi-party in 1990 legislative elections, although he/she managed to maintain power. The opposition was gradually creating a series of bodies devoted to unseat Mobutu.The end came in May 1997 when he was toppled by rebel leader Laurent Kabila with the support of Rwanda and Uganda.Because of his educational qualifications, Mobutu was trained as a noncommissioned officer and given a desk job as an accountant. He also tried his hand at journalism by writing a few pieces for army periodicals, and when he left the Force Publique in 1956, he became a stringer and then a regular staffer in Léopoldville, rising to the post of editor of the weekly Actualités Africaines. He received further training at the official Congo Information Office and then at a Brussels school of journalism.

He was installed and supported by the West, mostly Belgium and the US, because of his strong stance against communism, but once in, the power apparently went to his head and his regime became notorious for the usual corruption, human rights abuse and nepotism – and also, in his case, amassing an enormous personal fortune, partly through embezzlement of US funds, that led some to nickname his rule a ‘kleptocracy’. Eventually in 1997, after six years of promising to help stop economic deterioration and unrest by sharing power with opposition leaders while at the same time using the army to prevent anything changing.


During that period, Mobutu met Patrice Lumumba and became his representative in Belgium, while reportedly serving as an informer for the Belgian security police. Lumumba brought him back to the Congo in 1960, made him a presidential aide, and raised him to the rank of colonel and chief of staff of the Congolese army.Within 2 months of his appointment, Mobutu used his position to unseat Lumumba and to install the College of Commissioners, made up of graduate students (Sept. 20, 1960). Mobutu consolidated his hold over a segment of the army, particularly over a commando battalion which he organized with the help of a right-wing Moroccan general serving in the UN force, turning it into a praetorian guard to control the capital city. He was instrumental in the decision to turn Lumumba over to the Katanga regime and thus bears a major responsibility for the death of the man who had been his political protector.Thereafter, Mobutu concentrated his efforts on reunifying the fragmented army under his command and even managed to have Moïse Tshombe subscribe to his nominal paramountcy over Katanga forces after securing his release from the brief captivity into which the secessionist leader had allowed himself to be ensnared (June-July 1961).Although civilian rule was officially restored in August 1961 under Premier Cyrille Adoula, Mobutu remained a major power broker. The army's position—and indirectly that of Mobutu—became seriously weakened as a result of its disastrous performance in attempting to control the Congo rebellion in 1963-1965. When Tshombe returned to the Congo as prime minister, Mobutu supported his decision to make use of foreign military support (foreign technicians had in any case been working with the Congolese army since 1960); and he maintained this position when Joseph Kasavubu, sensing international hostility to the presence of white mercenaries in the Congo, announced his intention to dismiss them in October 1965.On Nov. 25, 1965, the army took power (officially for a period of 5 years), and Mobutu became president. Rather than follow Tshombe's policy of open subservience to Western interests, however, Mobutu assumed—at least initially—a nationalistic pose, rehabilitated Lumumba's memory, and challenged Belgian economic control of the Katanga mining industry. His confrontation with the Union Minière eventually led to a face-saving compromise, and his attempts to organize a mass party under the name of MPR (Mouvement Populaire de la Révolution) turned out to be somewhat less than impressive, but he was successful in beating back all attempts to unseat him.Two such attempts (aiming at Tshombe's restoration) took the form of mutiny by Katanga forces and white mercenaries, leading to the latter group's final expulsion from the Congo at the end of 1967. Thereafter, the Mobutu regime gradually inflected its course in a conservative direction (as witnessed by the October 1968 execution of rebel leader Pierre Mulele, who had returned to the Congo following assurances of amnesty) and had to face growing disaffection and unrest on the part of student circles. Diplomatically, Mobutu tried to strengthen the Congo's influence on the African scene. He was consistently favorable to the United States and indeed was often accused of rising to power with CIA help and of being a Trojan horse for American influence in central Africa. In December 1971 he changed his country's name to Zaïre.Like Stalin in the Soviet Union and Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Mobutu consolidated his power by developing a cult of his own personality. Pictures of him were printed by the tens of thousands and sent to every part of the country. His every word was recorded; his was the only official voice to speak for Zaire; orchestrated crowds cheered his speeches; and the Zairian media, all of it state censored, sang his praises and enlarged his stature in an unceasing bombardment. As historian Michael Schatzberg noted, "Scarcely a day passed when the press did not hail even his most banal activities as the magnanimous paternal gestures of a man intent only on the well being of his children, the people of Zaire. Zairian television began its broadcasts with a surrealistic vision of Mobutu descending from the cloud-filled heavens.Mobutu beat back threats from outside Zaire in the 1970s that took the form of invasions from Shaba (formerly Katanga) Province by rebels, some of whom were former Tshombe supporters from the independence era; others were refugees from Mobutu's terror. Mobutu almost lost control of the mining districts for a while in 1978 during a second rebel offensive, and again was forced to offer vocal anti-Communist sentiments in order to obtain aid from American President Jimmy Carter, who was repelled by Mobutu's cynical approach to human rights.Mobutu mishandled his nation's economy almost from the beginning. Once secure in power, he tried to exploit Zaire's natural mineral riches, but he and his backers lacked the personnel, infrastructure, and business ethos to make it work. Even worse, his decision in 1973 to nationalize all other economic assets owned by foreigners led to a catastrophic decline in national productivity and wealth. Humiliated by his financial woes, Mobutu returned farms and factories to their original owners, but a fall in the world price of copper further devasted the Zairian economy.Through the 1980s and into the 1990s, Mobutu grew ever more entrenched and corrupt and ever more suspicious of attempts to liberalize his rule. He made some halfhearted concessions toward free speech and democracy in the early '90s, but was unable to yield any real power.

Laurent Kabila and a rebel army forced him out of the country and took power, leaving him in exile in Morocco, where he died three months later from prostate cancer.Laurent Kabila no doubt seemed a much more likely prospect to lead Zaire, now newly renamed the Democratic Republic of the Congo, out of the dark days of Mobutu’s reign of terror and into the light of the modern world in, but unfortunately things didn’t work out quite that way. When the Congo gained independence in June 1960,Kabila was an officer in the youth wing of the Balubakat (the General Association of the Baluba People of Katanga), aligned with the first democratically elected President, Patrice Lumumba.


When the Congo became independent on June 30, 1960, a coalition government led the country, with Lumumba as Prime Minister and Joseph Kasavubu as President. Mobutu was appointed Army Chief of Staff. Lumumba and Kasavubu then locked horns in a struggle for political supremacy, and on Sept. 14, 1960, a military coup overthrew Lumumba and installed Kasavubu as overall leader. One of the key figures in the coup was none other than Lumumba's old friend, Mobutu. It turned out that both the American CIA and the Belgian government mistrusted Lumumba, who they thought to be a Communist or at least pro-Communist, and wanted Kasavubu in power, as they believed--correctly, as it turned out--that Kasavubu and Mobutu would be more "pliable". Five years later, though, Mobutu led a coup against Kasavubu, who had just managed to oust his rival, popular Prime Minister Moise Tshombe. Upon taking power, Mobutu banned all political parties and declared the equivalent of a state of emergency, taking on almost dictatorial powers. He later formed his own party, the Popular Movement of the Revolution, which all Congolese were obliged to join. He ordered all existing trade unions to form a single union, the National Union of Zairian Workers, and placed it under the control of the government.Although there were several uprisings and attempted coups, all were swiftly and brutally put down. In 1970 Mobutu held an election in which he was the only candidate and in which voting was mandatory. Not surprisingly, he got 99% of the vote. In 1971 he began a program of "cultural awareness" and renamed the country the Republic of Zaire. He ordered all Congolese with Christian names to drop them and change to African ones, baptism of children was outlawed and Western-style clothing and ties were banned. The next year he renamed himself Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Nbendu Wa Za Banga, although for convenience's sake he allowed others to refer to him as Mobutu Sese Seko. He also fostered a cult of personality in which his picture appeared everywhere, on everything from from postage stamps to the country's paper currency.His erratic, corrupt and authoritarian rule resulted in several coup attempts and secessions. Mobutu's solution was to stage public executions of those who were real, potential or imagined threats to his regime, but he later found that it was much less trouble--and garnered much less bad publicity worldwide--if he just bought off his enemies, which he proceeded to do. He also nationalized foreign-owned firms and deported their European owners and managers. He handed the firms over to his family members and political allies, most of whom immediately robbed the companies blind, sold off their assets and kept the money. The resulting economic anarchy caused by these actions forced Mobutu in 1977 to bring the Europeans back. In that same year a force of several thousand rebels--followers of the executed Tshombe--invaded the province of Katanga from their bases in neighboring Angola. They were well-trained, motivated and led mainly by professional mercenaries from South Africa and Europe, and they swiftly and decisively routed Mobutu's ill-equipped, poorly trained, undisciplined and disorganized army. He appealed for aid from France, which airlifted several thousand Moroccan paratroopers who eventually defeated the Katangan rebels. However, a year later the rebels attacked again, but this time with more troops than before. Mobutu's ragtag army fared no better this time than it did the year before and was decisively defeated again, with many of its soldiers tearing off their uniforms, throwing away their weapons and fleeing naked into the jungles. Katanga, with its vast mineral, diamond and ore deposits, was on the verge of declaring its independence, and there was nothing Mobutu could do about it. Once more he appealed for international help against the "Communists". France and Belgium dispatched troops to put down the invasion, with the US supplying logistical and material help, and the invading forces were driven back across the border into Angola.Despite these crises, Mobutu still had time to build up his personal wealth, which by 1984 was estimated to be at least $5 billion. While he amassed a fortune the country was going broke, and in 1989 it defaulted on loans from Belgium--Mobutu and his family and cronies having looted the country for years almost nonstop, the treasury simply ran out of money. This situation resulted in most roads, bridges and other elements of its infrastructure beginning to literally fall apart because there was no money to maintain them. Most government workers were paid sporadically if at all, resulting in tremendous inflation and a level of corruption that was mind-boggling even for Africa. The sheer scope of mismanagement, embezzlement and outright thievery by Mobutu and his cronies resulted in economists coining a new word for his form of government--kleptocracy. The cult of personality fostered by Mobutu and his government was pervasive; pictures and portraits of Mobutu were everywhere, government employees had to wear buttons with his photograph on them, and on TV broadcasts he was seen descending from the sky through clouds. He also awarded himself such titles as "Lion Warrior", "Savior of the Nation" and "Supreme Combatant".The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 did not bode well for Mobutu. He had always been able to count on support by Western governments, no matter how much they disliked his domestic policies. Because of the Congo's huge size. vast mineral wealth and strategic location, he was able to paint himself as a bulwark against "the Communist menace" in Africa, and the fact that his country held vast untapped reserves of gold, silver, diamonds, timber, etc., didn't hurt, either. However, now that the Soviet Union no longer existed, Mobutu's claim to be an anti-Communist bastion in the heart of Africa was irrelevant. Under pressure from western governments and because of economic problems and internal disturbances, Mobutu ended the ban on political parties and brought opposition figures into the government. Despite his attempt to co-opt the opposition by playing different factions against each other, however, the main opposition parties joined in one single organization in 1994, forcing him to appoint one of their members as his Prime Minister. In addition, Mobutu's health began to deteriorate, and he started to spend more time in Europe for medical treatment. In 1996 Tutsi rebels took advantage of one of his absences by launching a rebellion and taking control of the western half of the country. Other rebellions were launched from eastern Zaire, and in 1997 the combined rebel forces defeated Mobutu's army and took Kinshasa, the capital. Mobutu fled to neighboring Togo and then to Morocco, where he took permanent residence.

Another reason that explains the downfall of this strongmen is related to his made policies towards neighbouring countries, and especially Rwanda.Mobutu was overthrown in 1997 in a coup led by Joseph Laurent Kabila encouraged by Rwanda. The ousted president fled the country searching for exile.He died at the age of 66 in Rabat out of cancer.

Playing this strategic card to the hilt,  Mobutu allowed his huge country, which borders nine other African nations, to be used as a staging ground for supporting Western client states and anti-Communist guerrilla movements throughout the region, most notably next door in oil-rich Angola.By the same token,  Mobutu was able repeatedly to call on his Western allies to help put down the rebellions that have almost continuously marked his country's independent history.Mobutu's aid in the effort to contain Soviet influence in Africa, and his country's status as a repository of immense mineral wealth, earned him direct contacts  unmatched by any other leader of black Africa.Mobutu had managed to outlast a stern generation of famously wealthy, rightist dictators who ruled over much of the developing world throughout the cold war, from the Duvaliers of Haiti to Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines. But by the 1990's, with much of Africa and the rest of the world swept up in a new spirit of democratic politics, the  Mobutu's traditional Western backers had begun to see him as an embarrassing dinosaur.He suppressed tribal conflicts and encouraged a sense of nationhood, but at the same time amassed a huge personal fortune through economic exploitation and corruption, leading some to call his rule kleptocracy.  The 1994 genocide in Rwanda and the breakdown of order in Burundi that began in 1993 indirectly helped cause Mobutu's final downfall. More than one million refugees fled into Zaire's eastern border regions, unsettling the local population and reviving dormant feuds. Out of this uncertainty another rebellion emerged led by the enigmatic Laurent Kabila. This rebel movement proved surprisingly successful and in mid-1997 succeeded in pushing to the outskirts of the capital. Kabila became president and changed the name of the country to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Mobutu's long hold on power had disastrous consequences for his people. The Nigerian playwright Wole Soyinka referred to Mobutu as Africa's leading "toad king," a monarchical ruler who lived in grotesque splendor while his people starved. Mobutu's Zaire was also the distressing model for novelist V.S. Naipaul's A Bend in the River (1979), a chilling account of life in an African dictatorship. Indeed, it would be hard to think of Zaire under Mobutu as a developing country. Rather, it was a deteriorating society held together only by the iron-fisted and corrupt rule of its dictator.In October 1996 he  was forced to move to Switzerland to undergo a cancer suffering. His absence was exploited by the opposition to try to seize power. All enemies of Mobutu joined together in the Alliance for the liberation of the took, whose leader was Laurent-Désiré Kabila and whose core were members of the tutsi ethnic group. From their bases on the border with Rwanda, in November 1996, they launched an offensive towards the interior of the country. Mobutu, after a brief stay of convalescence on the French Riviera, returned to Zaire in December, but retrieved failed to try to stop the rebels made it back to France in January 1997. He reappeared in public life by surprise on March 23, and was prepared to negotiate with Kabila at the Summit of the Organization for African Unity, that it was going to take place in Togo. Thanks to the efforts of the President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, he made peace with Kabila talks, but contacts ended in a resounding failure. The United States and Belgium Governments asked that it renounce power, which made 16 of May 1997 when he left for exile in Morocco.Mobutu, ailing with prostate cancer (he had undergone surgery on August 22, 1996) fled with his family and close supporters to Togo. On September 7, 1997, about four months after he left the Congo, Mobutu died in Morocco.Civil society observers cautiously welcomed Calmy-Rey's comments, but called for the Swiss government to make sure that the SFr8 million remained frozen until its provenance could be legally proven.We in civil society of course also want these funds to go back to the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo, but at the moment Swiss law says that if there is no court decision [in Congo] the money can't be given back [to the Congolese people]," André Rothenbühler from Aktion Finanzplatz Schweiz, an independent NGO that monitors the Swiss financial system, told swissinfo.Rothenbühler wants a planned change in Swiss legislation to ensure that in cases where the criminal origins of money can be proven, it should be returned to the people of the country involved.Switzerland abandoned its legal aid involvement in Congo in 2003 after it took the view that the Congolese authorities were not in the position to carry out legal process that fitted constitutional criteria.Without a legal decision, Switzerland will be forced to hand back the funds to Mobutu's family after December 31, 2008.

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