/ zajɪr /
Prevedi zaire na: francuski · nemački
A republic in central Africa; formerly under Belgian control; Also called: Belgian Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Country in central Africa, bounded W by Congo, N by the Central African Republic and Sudan, E by Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania, SE by Zambia, and SW by Angola. There is a short coastline on the Atlantic Ocean.
Zaire was until 1991 a one-party state, based on the Popular Movement of the Revolution (MPR). An interim constitution was adopted Sept 1993 and in April 1994 a Transitional Constitutional Act provided for an interim government prior to the adoption of a new permanent constitution. Under the Act the president is head of state and a prime minister, appointed by the legislature, is head of government. The legislature is the 435-member Parliament of Transition, formerly the High Council of the Republic (HCR), which was formed Dec 1992. The president, who has been in power since 1985, continues to preside over the interim government.
The area was originally peopled by central African hunters and agriculturalists. The name Zaire (from Zadi “big water”) was given by Portuguese explorers who arrived on the country’s Atlantic coast in the 15th century. The great medieval kingdom of Kongo, centered on the banks of the Zaďre River, was then in decline, and the subsequent slave trade weakened it further. The interior was not explored by Europeans until the arrival of Stanley and Livingstone in the 1870s, partly financed by Leopold II of Belgium, who established the Congo Free State under his personal rule 1885. Local resistance was suppressed, and the inhabitants were exploited. When the atrocious treatment of local labor was made public, Belgium annexed the country as a colony, the Belgian Congo, 1908, and conditions were marginally improved.
Zaire was given full independence June 1960 as the Republic of the Congo. The new state was intended to be governed centrally from Leopoldville by President Joseph Kasavubu and Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba, but Moise Tshombe immediately declared the rich mining province of Katanga (renamed Shaba 1972) independent under his leadership. Fighting broke out, which was not quelled by Belgian troops, and the United Nations (UN) Security Council agreed to send a force to restore order and protect lives. Meanwhile, disagreements between Kasavubu and Lumumba on how the crisis should be tackled prompted the Congolese army commander, Col Joseph-Désiré Mobutu, to step in and temporarily take over the government. Lumumba was imprisoned and later released, and five months later power was handed back to Kasavubu. Soon afterwards Lumumba was murdered and the white mercenaries employed by Tshombe were thought to be responsible. The outcry that followed resulted in a new government being formed, with Cyrille Adoula as prime
During the fighting between Tshombe's mercenaries and UN forces the UN secretary-general, Dag Hammarskjöld, flew to Katanga province to mediate and was killed in an airplane crash on the border with Northern Rhodesia. The attempted secession of Katanga was finally stopped 1963 when Tshombe went into exile, taking many of his followers with him to form the Congolese National Liberation Front (FNLC). In July 1964 Tshombe returned from exile, and President Kasavubu appointed him interim prime minister until elections for a new government could be held. In Aug the country was renamed the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
A power struggle soon developed between Kasavubu and Tshombe, and again the army, under Mobutu, intervened, establishing a “second republic” Nov 1965.
A new constitution was adopted 1967, Tshombe died in captivity 1969, and Mobutu was elected president for a seven-year term 1970. The following year the country became the Republic of Zaire, and the Popular Movement of the Revolution (MPR) was declared the only legal political party 1972. In the same year the president became known as Mobutu Sese Seko.
reform and stability
Mobutu, reelected 1977, carried out a large number of political and constitutional reforms. He gradually improved the structure of public administration and brought stability to what had once seemed an ungovernable country, although he faced two revolts in Shaba province. The first in March 1977 was put down with the support of Moroccan forces airlifted to Zaire by France. The second in May 1978 was repulsed by French and Belgian paratroopers. Both invasions were instigated by the FNLC, operating from bases in Angola. The harshness of some of Mobutu's policies brought international criticism and in 1983 he offered amnesty to all political exiles. Marshal Mobutu, as he was now called, was reelected 1984 for a third term.
After continued pressure, multiparty elections were promised for 1992, and by Jan 1991, 19 political parties had registered.
mounting civil strife
In Sept 1991, as the country's economy disintegrated and rebellious soldiers and mobs ransacked Zaire's cities, Mobutu agreed to share power and form an emergency government with the opposition. Etienne Tshisekedi of the Democratic Union for Social Progress was appointed prime minister. In Oct 1991, after public disagreement, Mobutu dismissed Tshisekedi, who then set up an alternative government in opposition to the president. Despite domestic and international opposition to his rule, Mobutu announced Dec 1991 that he intended to remain beyond his seven-year mandate. Tshiksekedi was reinstated as prime minister Aug 1992, although opposed by Mobutu, and an interim parliament, The High Council of the Republic (HCR), set up in Dec. Rioting had re-erupted Oct 1992 after Mobutu refused to accept proposed constitutional changes, and a pay dispute within the army in Dec resulted in widespread looting and killing, prompting France and Belgium to prepare for evacuation of their civilians.
In March 1993 Prime Minister Tshisekedi was dismissed, once again, by President Mobutu and replaced by Faustin Birindwa. Tshisekedi disputed the decision. Agreement between Mobutu and the HCR was finally reached and an interim constitution adopted April 1994. In June 1994 a reconstituted HCR, now known as the Parliament of Transition, elected Kengo Wa Dondo as prime minister, and this was accepted by Mobutu.