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Zaire Table of Contents


Popular Attitudes Toward the Civil Security Apparatus

Given the predilection of the various internal security and police elements for preying upon citizens they are charged with protecting and their often negligible contribution to law and order, it is no wonder that Zairians hold them in low esteem, viewing them as no better than common bandits and thieves. Citizens fear to challenge their authority directly, although there have been numerous demonstrations and rioting against the Mobutu regime in the early 1990s. Extreme abuses by security forces also have resulted in occasional violent reprisals by angry villagers, especially against unarmed or poorly armed police elements. It is not apparent that any one service is uniformly more disliked than another. Indeed, the formal distinctions among them are not often readily apparent to the common citizen because of the lack of uniforms and the tendency of personnel engaged in illicit acts to misidentify themselves. The relationship is further complicated by the fact that criminals sometimes pose as members of the official services in order to induce fear and acquiescence in their victims.

Data as of December 1993