Democratic Republic of Congo History


Mobutu was officially elected president in 1970 and established a strongly authoritarian regime. In 1971 the Democratic Republic of the Congo took the name of the Republic of Zaire. During the Angolan civil war (1975-76), the country assumed an ambiguous position, hosting and favoring the faction led by Holden Roberto (Mobutu’s relative). In early 1977, the government faced an uprising, backed by foreign mercenaries, in Shaba province. L ‘ Angola she was accused of having fomented the unrest and the situation between the two countries became tense. The revolt was suppressed and in 1978 there was reconciliation between Angola and the then Republic of Zaire. The internal situation, however, remained difficult and uncertain, in particular due to the precarious economic conditions of the absolute majority of the population; however Mobutu was re-elected and kept his power unchanged through an autocratic and despotic management of the state, increasingly corrupt in its institutions. In the second half of the decade, the international community’s criticism of the Zairian regime increased, which therefore sought new alliances (removal from the United States and Belgium, closer to France and Libya), and some transitional governments established, in 1990 an uncertain and contradictory process of liberalization seemed to start: some constitutional amendments reduced presidential powers (June) and allowed the reconstitution of parties (November). In 1991 a National Conference (CN) was established as a forum for reconciliation and for the elaboration of a new constitutional charter; however, this soon found itself paralyzed between the supporters of the president (United Democratic Forces) and the opposition parties, united in a Sacred Union.

According to getzipcodes, the National Conference was finally configured as an antagonist power to Mobutu’s presidential one, until it proclaimed its sovereignty and the binding value of its deliberations on 14 April 1992. Although Mobutu had, by designation of the CN, appointed Étienne Tshisekedi prime minister, leader of the Sacred Union (15 August), the conflict between the two institutions did not abate. In December the CN dissolved, after having concluded its work with the appointment of the members of the High Council of the Republic, a sort of provisional parliament, to whose presidency the archbishop of Kisangani Monsignor L. Monsegwo Pasinya, former president of the organization. Mobutu, however, dismissed the members of the provisional government formed by Tshisekedi and prevented, by resorting to force, the meetings of the High Council of the Republic. The growing political tension plunged the country into a serious economic crisis, which increasingly resulted in disorder and violence. In the situation of political crisis, exasperated by the very serious economic situation, various military uprisings took place. Mobutu tried to re-establish a dialogue with the opposition of the Sacred Union; this led to the resignation of the pro-presidential government established in 1993 and the formation of a new Assembly with a substantially equal criterion between members of the opposition and followers of the president, a criterion that was confirmed in the composition of a new government in July 1994. To further complicate the already complex internal affairs was added the problem of Rwandan refugees, whom the government wanted to forcibly repatriate, provoking protest reactions from the international community. The revolt, in September 1996, of a population of origin Tutsi, the Banyamulenge, settled in the eastern part of the country, started the events that led to the overthrow of Mobutu. The rebels, in fact, joined other groups organized on an ethnic-political basis led by Laurent-Désiré Kabila, leader of the People’s Revolutionary Party (Lumumbista formation founded in the 1960s). Thus was born the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (AFDL), whose advance was unstoppable. The UN appeals, calling for the withdrawal of all foreign forces in eastern Zaire, and Mobutu’s attempts to give credibility to his government by replacing a series of prime ministers proved futile. In May 1997 AFDL troops entered Kinshasa and Kabila proclaimed himself president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, thus restoring the name the country had had from 1960 to 1971. Mobutu managed to escape (he will die in Rabat in September 1997) and Kabila assumed full powers.


Kabila created a transitional parliament made up of 300 deputies appointed by decree by the president. Civil war was rife in the country with the involvement of other countries of the continent (Rwanda and Uganda on the side of the rioters, Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe in favor of Kabila). Despite repeated appeals from the French president J. Chirac and the UN secretary K. Annan, the signing of ceasefire agreements and the opening of negotiations between rival factions to call new elections, the civil war became a veritable genocide. In January 2001, in a climate that seemed increasingly adverse to reaching an agreement with former allies, Uganda and Rwanda, now considered aggressors to be chased, President D. Kabila was assassinated by his own bodyguards. He was succeeded by his son Joseph Kabila, former head of the country’s Armed Forces, who remained at the helm of the army and strengthened his father’s alliances with Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe. In July 2002 J. Kabila signed a historic peace agreement with the president of Rwanda. A few days later he also announced the normalization of relations with the Ugandan government which, consequently, gradually withdrew its troops from Congolese territory. In December of the same year the government signed a peace agreement in Pretoria with the main rebel movements. After more than a year of negotiations, in April 2003 the Sun City agreements were signed which, in addition to the drafting of a transitional constitution, laid the foundations for the democratization process of the country. In July of the same year, a government of national unity presided over by J. Kabila took office, leading the country to the 2006-2007 elections. These consultations confirmed J. Kabila to lead the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, rebel groups remained active, in particular Tutsi groups in Kivu and, despite the agreements, strong instability continued to occur on the border with Rwanda with the presence of the Hutu rebels of the FDLR (Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda). In December 2011, presidential elections were held which confirmed Kabila, even if the opposition denounced fraud and irregularities in the conduct of the consultations. In the spring of 2012, a revolt in North Kivu called M23 (March 23 Movement) began, led by General Bosco Ntaganda, which led to the rebel occupation of the city of Goma (November 2012).

Democratic Republic of Congo History