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Armed Opposition

The best-known of the groups committed to armed struggle probably is the Front for the National Liberation of the Congo (Front pour la Libération Nationale du Congo--FLNC), whose armed forces invaded Zaire's Shaba Region in 1977 and 1978, from bases in Angola (see Shaba I; Shaba II , ch. 5). The FLNC was led by Nathaniel Mbumba, a former police officer. On the basis of its activities on Zairian soil and its declarations, the FLNC had no discernible program other than to overthrow Mobutu. Despite recruiting largely from Lunda and other ethnic communities of southwestern Shaba Region, there was no sign of Shaba separatism in its pronouncements or actions. The FLNC continued to exist in the early 1990s, but it had expelled Mbumba in 1987; neither the party nor its one-time leader played a major role in the transitional period after May 1990.

Some observers noted the FLNC's failure to coordinate its activities with the other major armed opposition group, the PRP. Headed by Laurent Kabila, a leader of the Lumumbist insurrection of 1964-65, the PRP maintained a "liberated zone" in the Fizi area of southeastern Kivu (in present-day Sud-Kivu). This zone had been out of government control since 1964. PRP forces in the area apparently existed in symbiosis with the government forces sent to exterminate them. Assignment to that theater of operations reportedly was popular with Zairian military officers, who profited from smuggling gold, ivory, and other commodities out of the PRP zone.

In contrast to the FLNC, the PRP had a well-defined program for social revolution. According to one publication, it foresaw regrouping peasants in cités agricoles, which would be organized as agricultural cooperatives, and equipped with a dispensary, maternity clinic, nursery school, playing fields, movie theater, market, and branch of the savings bank. It was unclear how this socialist paradise in rural Zaire would be financed.

The PRP was briefly in the headlines in 1975, when its guerrillas kidnapped four foreigners (three American, one Dutch) at a Tanzanian wildlife research station. In 1984 and again in 1985, the PRP captured the town of Moba (eastern Shaba, on Lake Tanganyika) before being expelled each time by the Zairian army. The government claimed that 1,500 PRP fighters surrendered in 1986, but in the early 1990s, the PRP apparently held its small pocket of rural territory.

Another Lumumbist group, the Congolese Liberation Party (Parti de Libération Congolaise--PLC), attacked small army and police posts and government transport around Beni, between Lake Edward and Lake Albert, Kisangani, and Kwilu in 1987. At the end of the 1980s, the PLC apparently still had a small guerrilla force in the Ruwenzori Mountains, along the Ugandan border. Abandoned by their leader, Marandura Kibingo, some of the PLC fighters reportedly were hiding their guns and descending to western Uganda to grow food. In the meantime, Marandura was said to be living in Dar es Salaam on money supplied by Libya to the PLC.

The Congolese National Movement-Lumumba (Mouvement National Congolais-Lumumba--MNC-Lumumba) was involved over the years in small-scale, low-visibility border incursions from the east, which did not pose a serious threat to regime stability. In 1984, however, the MNC-Lumumba claimed responsibility for bomb blasts at the Voice of Zaire and the central post office in Kinshasa, in which one person was killed. Zaire placed the blame for the incidents on Libya, but the Belgian government expelled MNC-Lumumba secretary general François-Eméry Lumumba Tolenga (son of Patrice Lumumba), saying it "would not permit acts of terrorism to be organized from Belgian territory." The 1984 blasts remained isolated incidents of urban terrorism.

In March 1994, in Luanda, Angola, a group calling itself the Congolese National Army (Armée Nationale Congolaise--ANC) announced its intention of beginning an armed struggle in Zaire. The ANC presented itself as the military wing of the "radical opposition," and said that its main objective was "to restore legitimacy and democracy" to the "ex-Zaire" or "future Democratic Republic of the Congo." It claimed that it had fighters based in Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, and Angola.

Data as of December 1993

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