Zaire Table of Contents
Mobutu's second coup, on November 25, 1965, occurred in circumstances strikingly similar to those that had led to his first takeover--a struggle for power between the incumbent president, Joseph Kasavubu, and Prime Minister Moïse Tshombe. The KasavubuTshombe friction began to gain momentum during the legislative elections in the spring of 1965. The immediate task facing the new parliament was the election of a new president, whose role was defined by the constitution as the chief executive, leaving the prime minister in charge of the day-to-day tasks of government. Determined to seize the presidency from Kasavubu, Tshombe had organized a new party, the National Confederation of Congolese Associations (Confédération Nationale des Associations Congolaises- -Conaco), which in effect was little more than a loose alliance of forty-nine, primarily southern, parties from among the more than 200 parties that mushroomed into existence to participate in the electoral process.
Although Conaco emerged triumphant from the March 1965 elections, with a total of 122 out of 167 parliamentary seats, Kasavubu decided to appoint Évariste Kimba, a leading figure of the anti-Tshombe forces, as prime minister-designate. Complex maneuverings followed the nomination of Kimba. When the time came for a vote of confidence, on November 14, the Tshombe coalition, with its clear majority in parliament, managed to block his investiture by a vote of 121 to 134. Another candidate, Victor Nendaka, then sought the investiture, only to be faced with further obduracy from Kasavubu, who went on to renominate Kimba. As in 1960, the constitutional impasse threatened the machinery of government with total paralysis.
The constitutional deadlock paved the way for Mobutu's second military takeover. On November 24, fourteen members of the ANC high command met in Léopoldville with Mobutu in an emergency session. The following day, the announcement was made that Kasavubu and Kimba had been removed from office as president and prime ministerdesignate , and that Mobutu had been named as chief of state by the army. Colonel Léonard Mulamba became prime minister of the new "government of national union." Parliament, meanwhile, approved by acclamation the new government, which announced that it could remain in office for five years under a state of emergency.
The new regime received considerable initial approval from other African states and from the United States. Indeed, United States support for the new regime was to prove remarkably durable (see Relations with the West , ch. 4).
Data as of December 1993