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The Republic of the Congo ( ) was an independent republic established following the independence granted to the former colony of the Belgian Congo in 1960. The country's post-independence name remained only until 1 August 1964, when it was changed to Democratic Republic of the Congomarker, to distinguish it from the neighboring Republic of the Congomarker, formerly French Congo.

Unrest and rebellion plagued the government until 1965, when Lieutenant General Joseph-Désiré Mobutu, by then commander-in-chief of the national army, seized control of the country and declared himself president for five years.

Belgian Congo

The conditions in the Congo improved following the Belgian government's takeover from the Congo Free Statemarker. Select Bantu languages were taught in primary schools, a rare occurrence in colonial education. Colonial doctors were to greatly reduce the spread of African trypanosomiasis, commonly known as sleeping sickness. The colonial administration implemented a variety of economic reforms that focused on the improvement of infrastructure: railways, ports, roads, mines, plantations and industrial areas.The Congolese people, however, lacked political power and faced legal discrimination. All colonial policies were decided in Brussels and Leopoldville. The Belgian Colony-secretary and Governor-general, neither of whom was elected by the Congolese people, wielded absolute power. Among the Congolese people, resistance against their undemocratic regime grew over time. In 1955, the Congolese upper class (the so-called "évolués"), many of whom had been educated in Europe, initiated a campaign to end the inequality.

During World War II, the small Congolese army achieved several victories against the Italiansmarker in North Africa. The Belgian Congo, which was also rich in uranium deposits, supplied the uranium that was used by the United States to build the atomic weapons that were used in the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.

Congo Crisis

In May 1960, the MNC party or Mouvement National Congolais, led by Patrice Lumumba, won the parliamentary elections, and Lumumba was appointed Prime Minister. Joseph Kasavubu, of the ABAKO (Alliance des Bakongo) party, was elected President by the parliament. Other parties that emerged include the Parti Solidaire Africain (or PSA, led by Antoine Gizenga) and the Parti National du Peuple (or PNP led by Albert Delvaux and Laurent Mbariko).

The Belgian Congo achieved independence on 30 June 1960 under the name "Republic of Congo" or "Republic of the Congo" ("République du Congo"). As the French colony of Middle Congo (Moyen Congo) also chose the name "Republic of Congo" upon receiving its independence, the two countries were more commonly known as "Congo-Léopoldville" and "Congo-Brazzaville", after their capital cities. In 1966, Joseph Mobutu changed the country's official name to "Democratic Republic of the Congo", and in 1971 it was changed again to "Republic of Zaïre".

Shortly after independence, the provinces of Katangamarker (with Moise Tshombe) and South Kasai engaged in secessionist struggles against the new leadership.

Subsequent events led to a crisis between President Kasavubu and Prime Minister Lumumba. On 5 September 1960, Kasavubu dismissed Lumumba from office. Lumumba declared Kasavubu's action "unconstitutional" and a crisis between the two leaders developed.

Lumumba had previously appointed Joseph Mobutu chief of staff of the new Congo army, Armee Nationale Congolaise . Taking advantage of the leadership crisis between Kasavubu and Lumumba, Mobutu garnered enough support within the army to create sentiment sufficient to inspire mutinous action. With financial support from the United States and Belgium, Mobutu made payments to his soldiers in order to generate their loyalty. The aversion of Western powers towards communism and leftist ideology in general influenced their decision to finance Mobutu's quest to maintain "order" in the new state by neutralizing Kasavubu and Lumumba in a coup by proxy.

On 17 January 1961, Katangan forces, supported by the Belgian government's desire to retain rights to mine for copper and diamonds in Katanga and South Kasai and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency's desire to remove any leftist sympathizers in the region, assassinated Patrice Lumumba. Through 1960 to 1964 the peacekeeping effort was the largest, most complex, and most costly operation ever carried out by the United Nations. Amidst widespread confusion and chaos, a temporary government led by technicians (College des Commissaires) with Evariste Kimba, and several short governments Joseph Ileo, Cyrille Adoula, Moise Tshombe took over in quick succession.

Coup d'etat

Following five years of extreme instability and civil unrest, Joseph-Désiré Mobutu, now Lieutenant General, overthrew Kasavubu in a 1965 Central Intelligence Agency-backed coup. He had the support of the United States on account of his staunch opposition to Communism, which would presumably make him a roadblock to Communist schemes in Africa. It is also argued that the Western support for Mobutu was also related to his allowing businesses to export the many natural resources of Zaire without worrying about environmental, labour, or other regulations. A one-party system was established, and Mobutu declared himself head of state. He would periodically hold elections in which he was the only candidate.

See also



References

  1. "Zaire: Post-Independence Political Development", Library of Congress
  2. "Crisis in the Congo" Lefever, Ernest W.



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