Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mobutu Era May Be Ending; Some Fear Aftermath

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mobutu Era May Be Ending; Some Fear Aftermath

Article excerpt

President Mobutu Sese Seko once said he never would be called "ex-president." After 31 years as dictator, bowed by prostate cancer and humiliated by a rebel foe, he has never been so close.

If rebels seize the northeastern city of Kisangani - as it appears they are close to doing - many politicians, lawyers and professors in Zaire's capital of Kinshasa believe that Mobutu's era could end.

They see the potential for riots, political executions and an exodus of thousands from Kinshasa. "There will be great panic here," said Guillaume Ngefa Atondoko, president of the Zairian Association for the Defense of Human Rights. "It will be the end of the regime. Kisangani is like the last hope for the government and the regime." But other Zairians believe that Mobutu still could hang on. They see him as the only conceivable unifying force behind this colossal central African country of measureless mineral wealth and nationalistic people who don't want to see their country implode. When Mobutu, 66, returned to Zaire in December after four months of prostate cancer treatment in Europe, he was greeted as a savior. But Mobutu, who came home to rally the troops, did little more than change the army chief before heading back to France. While the Belgians, Moroccans, French, British and other Cold War allies came to his defense during earlier incursions by rebel leader Laurent Kabila in the 1970s, they appear to have deserted Mobutu this time around. Without their help, and because Mobutu has allowed the army to collapse, he is fighting his war with foreign mercenaries, according to David Shearer of London's International Institute for Strategic Studies. The rebels may be getting even more foreign help than the army. The United States has received reports that Ugandan, Burundian and Rwandan troops are helping Kabila. And the rebels are advancing quickly. For the most part, they have met with little resistance. Betrayed by Neighbors While villagers in the rebels' path have welcomed them, Mobutu retains support elsewhere, in part because of the rebels' foreign backing and the nationalist sentiments of Zairians who feel betrayed by their neighbors. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.