Zaire Table of Contents
In the months preceding the investiture of the Adoula government, several conferences were held between the representatives of the central caretaker government and the Katangan authorities for the specific purpose of reaching agreement on the constitutional framework of a reunified Congo. These meetings included the Léopoldville Round Table (January-February 1961), the Tananarive Conference (in Madagascar in March), and the Coquilhatville Conference (Coquilhatville is now Mbandaka, AprilMay ). The Tananarive Conference called for a confederated form of government, but the notion of confederation met with strong opposition in Léopoldville. By contrast, the Coquilhatville Conference recommended the establishment of a federal system as the future form of government. Tshombe opposed this plan.
Finally, after extensive negotiations, parliament met at Lovanium University outside Léopoldville on July 25, 1961, with the participation of deputies from all provinces, including Katanga and South Kasai (which ended its secession at that time). On August 2, Adoula was elected prime minister by a unanimous vote of confidence, thus bringing to an end the constitutional crisis triggered by the conflict between Lumumba and Kasavubu. There remained the more arduous task of resolving once and for all the Katangan secession, reducing the last vestiges of dissidence in Stanleyville, and elaborating the constitutional framework that would replace the Fundamental Law.
As noted earlier, not until January 1963, and only after a violent showdown with UN forces, was the secession of Katanga decisively crushed; and it took another year before the rival claimant to national power, the Stanleyville government, was brought to heel. Meanwhile, Adoula gave immediate priority to the task outlined in his inaugural declaration, "to take adequate measures permitting each region to administer itself according to its profound aspirations," and to initiate the constitutional revisions required by this objective. The result was the elimination of the former six provinces and their replacement by twenty-one smaller administrative entities, known as provincettes. The new formula proved thoroughly unworkable, however. Reducing the size of the provinces merely shifted the focus of ethnic conflict to a smaller arena, a phenomenon further encouraged by the sheer arbitrariness of their boundaries and the emergence of several bitterly contested areas. While sharply reinforcing ethnic animosities, the creation of the new provincettes was made more problematic still by the dearth of competent administrators, frequent recourse to force and skulduggery, and rampant corruption.
Despite its inauspicious beginnings, the new arrangement was formalized in the new constitution adopted by referendum in June and July 1964. And arrangements were made to change the country's name to Democratic Republic of the Congo with effect from August 1, 1964. By then, however, many of the provincettes were in a state of semi-anarchy, and at least three had fallen into the hands of rebel forces. The stage was set for yet another trial of strength between the central government and dissident forces.
Data as of December 1993