Mobutu Sese Seko

Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga[lower-alpha 1] (/məˈbt ˈsɛs ˈsɛk/; born Joseph-Désiré Mobutu; 14 October 1930 – 7 September 1997) was a Congolese politician and military officer who was the president of Zaire from 1965 to 1997 (known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo until 1971). 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.

Mobutu Sese Seko
Mobutu in 1983
President of Zaire
In office
27 October 1971  16 May 1997
Preceded byPost established
Succeeded byPost abolished
Laurent-Désiré Kabila (as President of the re-established DRC)
President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
In office
24 November 1965  27 October 1971
Preceded byJoseph Kasa-Vubu
Succeeded byPost abolished
Personal details
Joseph-Désiré Mobutu

(1930-10-14)14 October 1930
Lisala, Équateur, Belgian Congo
Died7 September 1997(1997-09-07) (aged 66)
Rabat, Rabat-Salé-Kénitra, Morocco
Political partyPopular Movement of the Revolution
(m. 1955; died 1977)

(m. 19801997)
Children21 (including Kongulu and Nzanga)
Military service
Years of service1949–1997
RankField Marshal (Army)
Admiral (Navy)
Commander in Chief (Military)
Battles/warsCongo Crisis
Shaba invasions
First Congo War

To consolidate his power, he established the Popular Movement of the Revolution as the sole legal political party in 1967, changed the Congo's name to Zaire in 1971, and his own name to Mobutu Sese Seko in 1972. Mobutu claimed that his political ideology was "neither left nor right, nor even centre",[1] though nevertheless he developed a regime that was intensely autocratic even by African standards of his time. He attempted to purge the country of all colonial cultural influence through his program of "national authenticity".[2][3] Mobutu was the object of a pervasive cult of personality.[4] During his rule, he amassed a large personal fortune through economic exploitation and corruption, leading some to call his rule a "kleptocracy".[5][6] He presided over a period of widespread human rights violations. Under his rule, the nation also suffered from uncontrolled inflation, a large debt, and massive currency devaluations.

Mobutu received strong support (military, diplomatic and economic) from the United States, France, and Belgium, who believed he was a strong opponent of communism in Francophone Africa. He also built close ties with the governments of apartheid South Africa, Israel and the Greek junta. From 1972 onward, he was also supported by Mao Zedong of China, mainly due to his anti-Soviet stance but also as part of Mao's attempts to create a bloc of Afro-Asian nations led by him. The massive Chinese economic aid that flowed into Zaire gave Mobutu more flexibility in his dealings with Western governments, allowed him to identify as an "anti-capitalist revolutionary", and enabled him to avoid going to the International Monetary Fund for assistance.[7]

By 1990, economic deterioration and unrest forced Mobutu Sese Seko into coalition with his power opponents. Although he used his troops to thwart change, his antics did not last long. In May 1997, 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 Concorde aircraft.[8]

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