Mobutu Sese Seko lived from 14 October 1930 to 7 September 1997. He was a Congolese politician and military officer who was the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 1965 to 1971, and later Zaire from 1971 to 1997. He also served as Chairman of the Organisation of African Unity from 1967 to 1968. During the Congo Crisis, Mobutu, serving as Chief of Staff of the Army and supported by Belgium and the United States, deposed the democratically elected government of left-wing nationalist, Patrice Lumumba in 1960. Mobutu installed a government that arranged for Lumumba's execution in 1961, and continued to lead the country's armed forces until he took power directly in a second coup in 1965.
To consolidate his power, he established the Popular Movement of the Revolution as the sole legal political party in 1967, changed the Congo's name to Zaire in 1971, and his own name to Mobutu Sese Seko in 1972. Mobutu claimed that his political ideology was "neither left nor right, nor even centre", though nevertheless he developed a regime that was intensely autocratic even by African standards of his time. He attempted to purge the country of all colonial cultural influence through his program of "national authenticity".Mobutu was the object of a pervasive cult of personality.During his rule, he amassed a large personal fortune through economic exploitation and corruption, leading some to call his rule a "kleptocracy".He presided over a period of widespread human rights violations. Under his rule, the nation also suffered from uncontrolled inflation, a large debt, and massive currency devaluations.
Mobutu received strong support (military, diplomatic and economic) from the United States, France, and Belgium, who believed he was a strong opponent of communism in Francophone Africa. He also built close ties with the governments of apartheid South Africa, Israel and the Greek military junta. From 1972 onward, he was also supported by Mao Zedong of China, mainly due to his anti-Soviet stance but also as part of Mao's attempts to create a bloc of Afro-Asian nations led by him. The massive Chinese economic aid that flowed into Zaire gave Mobutu more flexibility in his dealings with Western governments, allowed him to identify as an "anti-capitalist revolutionary", and enabled him to avoid going to the International Monetary Fund for assistance.
By 1990, economic deterioration and unrest led Mobutu to agree to share power with opposition leaders, but he used the army to thwart change until May 1997, when rebel forces led by Laurent-Désiré Kabila overran the country and forced him into exile. Already suffering from advanced prostate cancer, he died three months later in Morocco. Mobutu was notorious for corruption, nepotism, and the embezzlement of between US$4 billion and $15 billion during his rule. He was known for extravagances such as shopping trips to Paris via the supersonic and expensive Concorde.
Mobutu went into temporary exile in Togo, until President Gnassingbé Eyadéma insisted that Mobutu leave the country a few days later.From 23 May 1997, he lived mostly in Rabat, Morocco.He died there on 7 September 1997 from prostate cancer at the age of 66. He is interred in an above ground mausoleum at Rabat-Sale-Zemmour-Zaer, in the Christian cemetery known as Cimetière Européen.
In December 2007, the National Assembly of the Democratic Republic of the Congo recommended returning his remains, and interring them in a mausoleum in Zaire, which has not yet taken place. Mobutu remains interred in Morocco.
Mobutu was married twice. He married his first wife, Marie-Antoinette Gbiatibwa Gogbe Yetene, in 1955.They had nine children. She died of heart failure on 22 October 1977 in Genolier, Switzerland, at the age of 36. On 1 May 1980, he married his mistress, Bobi Ladawa, on the eve of a visit by Pope John Paul II, thus legitimizing his relationship in the eyes of the Church. Two of his sons from his first marriage died during his lifetime, Jean-Paul "Nyiwa" (d. 16 September 1994) and Konga (d. 1992). Two more died in the years following his death: Kongulu (d. 24 September 1998), and Manda (d. 27 November 2004). His elder son from his second marriage, Nzanga Mobutu Ngbangawe, now the head of the family, was a candidate in the 2006 presidential elections and later served in the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo as Minister of State for Agriculture. A daughter, Yakpwa (nicknamed Yaki), was briefly married to a Belgian, Pierre Janssen, who later wrote a book that described Mobutu's lifestyle in vivid detail.
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