Country Listing

Zaire Table of Contents


Opposition to the Regime prior to 1990

As the Zairian political scientist Ilunga Kabongo has observed, the origin of the Mobutu regime, together with subsequent foreign aid, had the effect of generating "a myth of the foreign element in Zairian politics." Whereas foreign, and especially American, scholars have tended to underplay foreign influence as secondary to local forces in shaping Zairian events, "it is overemphasized by many a Zairian scholar, the political elite as well as the commoners, to a point where most Zairians think that any change in their condition will have to come from outside decisive influence." This interpretation explained the futility felt by Zairian opposition groups, whose activities consisted mainly of lobbying Western powers in order to persuade the latter to remove Mobutu. One could extend Ilunga's argument to cover groups that relied on violence to overthrow Mobutu, most of which have depended on foreign support. The People's Revolutionary Party (Parti Révolutionnaire du Peuple--PRP) may be an exception to this rule. Certainly the aura of foreign influence, or foreign protection, as well as lobbying by international human rights organizations, conditioned the eventual emergence of successful opposition movements, notably the UDPS, which was able to survive within Zaire and to demonstrate that, like the government, it too had support from the United States.

Data as of December 1993