In May 1997 the Democratic Republic of the Congo abandoned the denomination of Zaire to resume, at the end of a period of civil unrest which lasted for several months, the official name of the Democratic Republic of Democratic Republic of the Congo, already in force until 1971. At the same time, a political and geopolitical, ethnic and economic reorganization began, the significance of which still appears to be misinterpreted.
In the 1980s, the current Democratic Republic of Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire until May 1997), lost its role as a western stronghold against communism, saw a reduction in economic aid from the USA, France and Belgium, until then its main allies, including because international attention had focused on the repeated violations of human rights that had characterized the government of dictator Mobutu Sese Seko. Not even the promise of establishing a democratic and multi-party regime, with the approval of an electoral law (May 1995) and with the announcement of new elections, was not able to mitigate the international isolation of the country. According to Thedresswizard, an improvement came with Mobutu’s decision to open the borders to Hutus fleeing Rwanda (1994), which led France and the US to offer economic aid through non-governmental channels starting in 1996. However, the arrival of more than two million refugees, who settled in the east of the country, created not only serious logistical problems in the reception areas, but above all very serious ethnic conflicts, which gave rise to the revolts that led to the overthrow of the regime of Mobutu and after the rebellion against his successor L.-D. Kabila.
At the root of these conflicts was the entry into the country, among civilian refugees, of Hutu militias who fled Rwanda, who tried to drive out the indigenous Tutsi population with the support of Mobutu’s army. The reaction of the Tutsis, joined by exponents of different ethnic groups, led to the formation of the AFDL (Alliance des Forces Démocratiques pour la Libération du Congo-Zaïre). The ensuing rebellion (October 1996), led by Kabila, Mobutu’s opponent since 1960, was supported by Rwanda, Uganda and Zimbabwe. The rapidly spreading armed uprising soon led to Kabila and his associates occupying most of the Kivu region in the east of the country and taking over the important city of Bunia (December 1996). Mobutu’s attempt, hastily returned from Europe where he had gone for health reasons, to build a force capable of countering the rebels, joining the Angolan national army of UNITA (União Nacional para a Indipendência Total de Angola) and European mercenaries, had no results. Forces led by Kabila, and supported by Rwanda, Burundi and Angola, captured the country’s second city, Lubumbashi (April 1997), and a mediation attempt by South African President N. Mandela was worthless. When the rebels entered Kinshasa (May 17), Mobutu left the Democratic Republic of Democratic Republic of the Congo to take refuge in Togo and then in Morocco, where he died in Rabat on September 7, 1997.. Kabila proclaimed himself president of the Democratic Republic of Democratic Republic of the Congo (May 29), returning to the country the name it had already had from 1964 to 1971, and assuming full powers.
The suspicious attitude of Kabila – who after having leaned on the Tutsis, indigenous and Rwandans, to conquer the country and consolidate his personal power, preferred to surround himself with collaborators of his own ethnic group (the Luba of the Southeast of the Democratic Republic of Democratic Republic of the Congo), prohibiting all forms of political activity – soon created deep discontent among his former allies, especially the Rwandan troops who had helped him to take power, and ordered them to leave the country as soon as he took office (July 1997).. Discontent against Kabila’s ‘mobutism’ turned into open revolt and the insurgents, mainly Tutsis, supported by the governments of Rwanda and Uganda, rapidly advanced towards Kinshasa moving from the east of the country, where the revolt had broken out (2 August 1998).
The rebel advance was arrested on the outskirts of the capital thanks to the help of troops sent from Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia, who officially claimed to intervene as members of the Southern African Development Community, of which the Democratic Republic of Democratic Republic of the Congo had entered. to join in 1997) to protect a legitimate government from attack by Rwanda and Uganda. Kabila enjoyed a moment of great popularity when he appealed to the nationalism of the population by presenting enemies as Tutsi invaders and unleashing the hunt for members of this ethnic group. About two months after the start of the conflict, Chad and Sudan also sent their troops to help Kabila. However, the rebels occupied a large portion of territory on the borders with Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda, also conquering Kindu (October 1998), a city of strategic importance in the central-eastern part of the country. The dictator, who had seized power thanks to the Tutsis, found new allies in the Congolese and Rwandan Hutus, the latter attracted by the prospect of one day succeeding, with the help of the Democratic Republic of Democratic Republic of the Congo, in ousting the Tutsis from the government of Rwanda..
In the first months of 1999, the war continued to bloody vast areas of the country and absorb almost entirely its economic resources, while Kabila’s repeated democratic openings appeared to be of little significance.