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Zaire Table of Contents


Opposition since 1990


Animateurs, cheerleaders for the MPR, after a rally in Équateur Region

As noted previously, Mobutu's April 1990 announcement of political pluralism emphasized that three political parties would be permitted. Soon thereafter, however, he opted instead for "integral multipartyism," apparently seeing more scope for his habitual divide-and-rule tactics than in a three-party arrangement. Numerous parties formed and ultimately received legal recognition in 1990, but most were small and not major contenders in elections. By late 1991, the number of registered political parties was placed at 230.

The major opposition parties are the UDPS, led by Tshisekedi; the PDSC, led by Ileo; and the UFERI, led by Nguza. Other noteworthy opposition political parties are the Common National Front (Front Commun National or Front Commun des Nationalistes-- FCN) of Kamanda wa Kamanda; the African Socialist Party (Parti Socialiste Africain--PSA), led by Jibi Ngoyi; the Unified Lumumbist Party, led by Antoine Gizenga; and the Rally of Liberal Democrats (Rassemblement des Démocrats Libéraux--RDL), led by Mwamba Mulanda and generally allied with UFERI.

By late 1991, several opposition parties had formed a coalition, the Sacred Union (Union Sacrée). Among the participants, in addition to UFERI, were the UDPS and the PDSC, which led the socalled radical wing of the coalition, as well as the Lumumbist Unified Party. The radical wing refused to participate in the newly formed government of Nguza. Nguza and UFERI then left the Sacred Union and organized another political coalition within the CNS, the Alliance of Patriotic Forces, encompassing some thirty opposition parties, ten civic associations, and various individuals united in opposition to the Mobutu regime, but rejecting "extremist" stands. Adolphe Kishwe-Maya, president of a UFERI faction, headed the Alliance's coordination bureau. Pro-Mobutu forces, led by the MPR, which reportedly changed its name to Popular Movement for the Revival (Mouvement Populaire pour le Renouveau), worked together in the United Democratic Forces (Forces Démocratiques Unies--FDU) coalition.

In June 1993, six defectors from the Sacred Union, claiming that the Sacred Union had become too extremist, formed their own coalition, which they called the Restored Sacred Union (Union Sacrée Rénovée). The six had joined the Birindwa government, and as such could no longer be regarded as ardent opponents of the Mobutu regime, so their role in the anti-Mobutu, prodemocracy movement is suspect. The same can be said of Nguza's UFERI and Alliance of Patriotic Forces, given Nguza's position as first deputy prime minister in charge of defense in the Birindwa government. In fact, some observers see Nguza's acceptance of the ministerial post as evidence that he has been co-opted by Mobutu.

In early September 1993, Tshisekedi formed another coalition to organize opposition to a Mobutu plan for a constitutional referendum to be held in October 1993 and followed by elections in December. The new group is called the Democratic Forces of the Congo-Kinshasa (Forces Démocratiques de Congo-Kinshasa). Its relationship to the Sacred Union is unclear, but presumably close.

The Sacred Union, still the principal component of the antiMobutu campaign, reportedly has been beset by divisiveness. In addition, Tshisekedi has been criticized both within the transitional government and within the UDPS for being too authoritarian and failing to hold a party conference. Such disunity within the opposition has continued to undermine its effectiveness and to play to Mobutu's advantage in the early 1990s.

Data as of December 1993