September 8, 1997 |
Mobutu Sese Seko, who ruled Zaire for nearly 32 years with a combination of brutal repression and unbridled greed that impoverished his citizens while earning him millions, died in Morocco on Sunday, less than four months after being driven into exile by leaders of a popular rebellion. Mobutu, who died at 66 after a long battle with prostate cancer, was for years the epitome of the African strongman. More than a dictatorship, his regime was often called a "kleptocracy."
May 14, 1997 |
Far more than the future of Zaire and its 45 million people rides on the imminent fall of Mobutu Sese Seko's ruinous regime before a rebel-led military onslaught: The political and economic fortunes of much of Africa may be at stake. Experts say the outcome of the epic struggle between Mobutu's tottering regime and rebel leader Laurent Kabila's guerrilla army could provide a huge boost to the world's poorest and most turbulent continent--or a setback that will hobble it for years to come.
January 2, 1989 |
For an illustration of Zaire's method of government, consider the day President Mobutu Sese Seko managed simultaneously to raise and lower the price of gasoline. At the start of the day, Zaire's prices were among the lowest in the world, although the country imports about three-quarters of its automobile fuel. For years, international banking authorities had insisted that Zaire slash its heavy gasoline subsidy to halt the drain of resources from its economy.
May 18, 1997 |
Guerrillas from Laurent Kabila's rebel army marched triumphantly into this sprawling capital Saturday and quickly moved to take control of the city and the country, effectively ending a seven-month civil war in Africa's third-largest nation. A beaming Kabila told reporters at rebel headquarters in the southeastern city of Lubumbashi that he was assuming power immediately as the head of state of Zaire, which he called the Democratic Republic of Congo.
May 17, 1997 |
After more than three decades of ruthless and corrupt rule, President Mobutu Sese Seko fled with members of his family and key aides early Friday, apparently relinquishing power before an expected takeover of this nervous capital by advancing rebel soldiers. Africa's longest-serving despot was chauffeured from his palace shortly after dawn in a small car, rather than his usual stretch limousine, in a heavily guarded motorcade of about 10 vehicles, witnesses said.
June 6, 1997 |
Backing down from earlier assertions that it had nothing to do with alleged massacres of Rwandan refugees, Congo's government now acknowledges that some may have been killed in cross-fire during the recent civil war. President Laurent Kabila's government is hoping that the admission, while far from an acknowledgment that his forces committed atrocities, is enough to secure aid for his ravaged land during a visit today by envoy Bill Richardson, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.