The Democratic Republic of Congo is commemorating the 25th anniversary of Mobutu Sese Seko’s totalitarian leadership.
Mobutu controlled the Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly Zaire, for more than 30 years before fleeing Kinshasa on the night of May 17, 1997, as rebel troops marched on the city.
Laurent Kabila, a rebel commander, then took power and renamed the country the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Mobutu died in exile in Morocco later that year and was buried there.
President Joseph Kabila announced in 2013 that the government would repatriate the body, but no action was taken.
Critics accused Mobutu of being a brutal and corrupt president who suppressed internal dissent and plundering the mineral resources of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The 17th of May has been designated as a national holiday in honor of the country’s military services. Kinshasa is planning a parade to commemorate the occasion.
Mobutu was a Congolese politician and military officer who was the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 1965 to 1971, and later Zaire from 1971 to 1997. He also served as Chairman of the Organisation of African Unity from 1967 to 1968.
During the Congo Crisis, Mobutu, serving as Chief of Staff of the Army and supported by Belgium and the United States, deposed the democratically elected government of left-wing nationalist, Patrice Lumumba in 1960. Mobutu installed a government that arranged for Lumumba’s execution in 1961, and continued to lead the country’s armed forces until he took power directly in a second coup in 1965.
By 1990, economic deterioration and unrest led Mobutu 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 overran the country and forced him into exile.
Already suffering from advanced prostate cancer, he died three months later in Morocco. Mobutu was notorious for corruption, nepotism, and the embezzlement of between US$4 billion and $15 billion during his rule. He was known for extravagances such as shopping trips to Paris via the supersonic and expensive Concorde.
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