Mobutu could lose world pariah status

PRESIDENT Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire, who has been shunned by the international community for the past three years, is making a comeback - thanks partly to the Rwandan disaster.

Although Western diplomats deny that Mr Mobutu is being rewarded for allowing Rwandan refugees into eastern Zaire, his open-door policy towards French troops, the United Nations and aid agencies assisting one million Rwandans around Goma, has helped rehabilitate one of the world's most recalcitrant and manipulative dictators. France, whose troops used Goma airport as a base for their operation in Rwanda in June, has reopened its aid office in Kinshasa and is expected to resume aid shortly.

Three years ago Mr Mobutu's days seemed numbered. Several cities were sacked by looters and much of his vast disparate country seemed ungovernable. He came under strong pressure to introduce political reform and democracy. Western diplomats helped expose him as one of the most corrupt leaders in Africa and his old allies, France, Belgium and the US turned their backs on him.

In 1991 Zaire received from Western donors some dollars 479m (pounds 305m) of which France gave dollars 72.2m. The following year aid was cut completely and in January 1993 France, the United States and Belgium, the former colonial power, sent a memo to Mr Mobutu which said aid would only resume when there was responsible government, the Bank of Zaire was made independent, the economy was reformed and there were moves towards democracy and respect for human rights.

A week later the capital was sacked by Mr Mobutu's soldiers and, according to many diplomats, they were encouraged by the President. Thousands of foreign nationals were evacuated and the country seemed headed for breakdown. One of President Mobutu's tactics has been to create chaos in order to demonstrate that only if he is left alone to rule can Zaire's stability be maintained.

Since then the country has been adrift and the formal economy has all but died.

In June, Kengo wa Dondo was put forward by Mr Mobutu as Prime Minister and elected by parliament, though Etiene Tshisekedi's opposition party boycotted the election. He has no support base in Zaire but is respected by Western governments and represents in the words of one diplomat 'Mobutu's last chance'.

The French decision to resume aid to Zaire is privately regarded as precipitate by the US and Belgium, who want to give the new government six months to prove itself. Paris appears to have abandoned its policy of promoting democracy in Africa and reverted to supporting dictators as long as they are pro-French. The United States, however, is forbidden by the congressional Brooke Amendment to give aid to governments such as Zaire's but Washington is trying to give Mr Kengo some encouragement by receiving him next week when to he comes to New York to address the UN General Assembly. He is not expected to meet the Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, but will meet Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, George Moose.

Zaire's access to world financial institutions is also blocked. It is in arrears to the IMF and ineligible to borrow but a Fund spokesman said there were preliminary signs that Zaire was making efforts to rectify its position with the Fund, the Bank and its creditors. 'The effort is preliminary, however. There is nothing clear yet,' a spokesman said.

(Photograph omitted)

Suggested Topics
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
New Articles
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
i100
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
booksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Implementation Consultant (VB,C#, SQL, Java, Eclipse, integ

£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SQL Impl...

SQL Technical Implementation Consultant (Java, BA, Oracle, VBA)

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: SQL Technical ...

Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, Fidessa, Equities)

£85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...

Lead C# Developer (.Net, nHibernate, MVC, SQL) Surrey

£55000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Lead C# Develo...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering