December 2, 1991
The Zaire crisis will not end with President Mobutu Sese Seko's appointment of Nguza Karl-I-Bond as his fifth prime minister this year. The embattled dictator had promised that appointment to the opposition umbrella group, Sacred Union, which insists that Etienne Tshisekedi be prime minister until elections are held. Mr. Mobutu sacked Mr. Tshisekedi in October for independence and denying the president access to the treasury.Mr. Nguza, who has been vice president and ambassador to Washington, has broken with President Mobutu five times and returned to the fold as often.
May 1, 1997
WHETHER President Mobutu Sese Seko takes advantage of a South African offer to meet with Zairian rebels matters less and less as each hour passes. His misrule is coming to the end.In seven months, the rebels have seized more than half of Africa's third-largest nation. Yesterday, they captured Kikwit, a city on a major highway 250 miles east of the capital. "The next stop is Kinshasa," a rebel spokesman said.The U.S. position is revealing. After propping up the regime for so long, Washington now wants President Mobutu to resign so democratic elections can be held and the possible disintegration of Zaire avoided.
November 11, 1992
The international donor community acting through the IMF and World Bank can force African dictators to declare multi-party elections, but can't make them lose. Foreign pressure cannot make the playing field level. It cannot ensure that the election will even be held.President Daniel arap Moi of Kenya gave in to long and strong pressure from the United States and other donors, who withheld aid until he declared political parties legal, last December. With three quarreling opposition parties in place, he has dissolved parliament and scheduled an election for Dec. 7. If enough foreign observers pile in, the contest may be roughly fair.
May 17, 1997
THE DEATH RATTLE of the 32-year tyranny of Mobutu Sese Seko in Zaire came when Gen. Nzimbi Ngbale donned civilian clothes and hopped a speedboat to sanctuary in neighboring Congo. If a last stand was going to be made, the presidential guard he commanded would have made it. The departure of President Mobutu from Kinshasa and announcement of his giving up power were anticlimax.Taking over an unresisting Kinshasa is a daunting challenge. It is a Third World megalopolis of some five million people, who need water and food and sanitation, reached by few roads, a mighty river and an airport.
October 10, 1991
The job of holding Zaire together was made more difficult, no matter who is attempting it, by the riots and looting in the capital Kinshasa, the mining center Kolwezi and other towns that erupted late last month. Food and medicine were stolen, factories wrecked, health care centers dismantled. AIDS may even have been spread by the theft of hospital research center refrigerators containing blood samples.Now that President Mobutu Sese Seko has appointed his sworn opponent, Etienne Tshisekedi, to be prime minister, only to threaten to fire him for trying to grab control of the military, confusion rather than either of these two politicians rules the country.
November 10, 1996
GOMA, Zaire -- On a lakeshore outside this once pleasant resort town lies a ruined palace, testimony to the opulent lifestyle of President Mobutu Sese Seko and the violence that is pushing his country into the annals of African suffering.Soldiers for one of several rebel armies now guard the sprawling mansion where Mobutu used to sit on ornate chairs with lions thrusting their gilded heads from the armrests. Above him was his own portrait, hammered out of local copper. In one of the bathrooms, there is still a gallon-size jar of French cologne with the label "Je Reviens" -- "I am coming back."