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Minorities At Risk Project: Home    

Chronology for Ngbandi in the Dem. Rep. of the Congo

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Date(s) Item
Nov 1, 1884 - Feb 28, 1885 Conference of Berlin acknowledges the claims of Leopold II's International Association of the Congo.
1908 In response to growing criticism of the treatment of the African population, the Belgian parliament annexes the Belgian Congo.
1940 - 1945 Production of goods and minerals is greatly increased to finance Belgian efforts in World War II. Large-scale social and economic changes occur as many rural Africans relocate to urban areas. Demands for political reforms grow.
1952 - 1958 Legal reforms are enacted permitting Africans to own land and giving them some political participation.
1956 Alliance of the Kongo People (Abako), headed by Joseph Kasavubu, issues a manifesto calling for immediate independence.
Jan 1959 Belgians disperse a crowd of Abako supporters at a political meeting. Widespread rioting results. Belgium recognizes the total independence of Congo as its main goal.
Jul 1959 The MNC (Congolese National Movement) which had emerged as an important actor in the independence movement splits into two camps. One faction is led by Patrice Lumumba who is Tetela, an ethnic group of Kasai province. This faction, known as MNC-Lumumba is largely supported by the Lulua ethnic group in Kasai. The other faction was headed by Joseph Ileo, Cyrille Adoula, and Albert Kalonji, a Luba-Kasai. This moderate wing, known as MNC-Kalonji, drew support from the Luba-Kasai.
May 1960 In national legislative elections, MNC-Lumumba wins the largest number of votes. The Belgian authorities name Lumumba prime minister.
Jun 1960 Abako leader Kasavubu is elected president. Zaire (then Congo) becomes independent from Belgium.
Jul 1960 Moise Tshombe declares the region of Katanga, later Shaba, independent. This independence bid was backed by Belgian interests as the Shaba region is rich in minerals.
Aug 8, 1960 South Kasai, headed by Albert Kalonji, secedes. Lumumba used military forces loyal to him to launch a major offensive against both Katanga and Kasai secessionists. These units never made it to Katanga, but their attack on Kasai led to a large-scale massacre of the Luba.
Sep 1960 The president and prime minister formally break and fire each other from their posts. Mobutu Sese Seko, from the Ngbandi ethnic group and chief of staff of the military, steps in and assumes power while keeping Kasavubu as nominal president. The country is run by the "College of Commissioners."
Jan 17, 1961 Lumumba is assassinated.
Feb 1961 College of Commissioners is dissolved and a provisional government is formed, headed by Ileo. Adoula is named prime minister in August.
1963 The Katanga (Shaba) region is reintegrated into Zaire. Tshombe is arrested and sent into exile.
Jan 1964 Rebellion breaks out in Kwilu area around Kikwit. This rebellion is headed by Pierre Mulele. In May, a second rebellion led by Gaston Soumialot begins in the east and spreads rapidly.
Jul 1964 Tshombe is recalled from exile and replaces Adoula as prime minister.
Dec 1964 The eastern rebellion is put down and Soumialot is sent into exile.
Nov 1965 Mobutu Sese Seko seizes power in a military coup after the government is paralyzed due to rivalry between Tshombe and Kasavubu. Mobutu names himself president.
Dec 1965 The rebellion in Kwilu ends. Mulele goes into exile. In 1968 he returns under a general amnesty but is executed.
Apr 17, 1967 Mobutu creates the MPR (Popular Revolutionary Party) which became the sole legitimate vehicle for participating in the political sphere.
Oct 1971 The country's name is changed to Zaire. Under Mobutu's policy of "authenticity," all colonial or Christian names, public and private, were to change to Zairean ones. Mobutu tried to create a nationalism based on loyalty to the state rather than loyalties to specific regions. He tried to downplay ethnic differences and loyalties, but was seen to favor his own ethnic group and region (Equateur) and rivalries remained.
Aug 1974 The 1967 constitution is revised making the MPR synonymous with the state.
Mar 1977 Armed rebellion in the Shaba region poses the greatest threat to the Mobutu regime since he seized power in 1965. A Zairean insurgency group invades Shaba from Angola, but is defeated with the help of French, Belgian and American military supplies and Egyptian and Moroccan forces.
May 1978 The same Shaba insurgency group again launches an invasion of Shaba, this time from Zambia. It is again defeated with the help of the French and Belgian troops logistically supported by the U.S Air Force.
1990 - 1991 Since open opposition to the government is legalized in 1990, resistance to Mobutu is organized in Shaba. Three key leaders are Etienne Tshisekedi, Jean Nguz Karl-i-Bond and Gabriel Kyungu wa Kumwanza. The latter two joined forces in UFERI (Union of Federalists and Independent Republicans). Opposition in Shaba was known as the "Sacred Union" and when Mobutu announced the transition to democracy, the Union backed Tshisekedi, himself a Luba-Kasai, as the opposition candidate.
Apr 1990 Mobutu announces he will allow multi-party elections the following year.
May 11, 1990 Students are massacred by Mobutu's elite Special Presidential Division after they demonstrate against the government at Lumbumbashi University.
Feb 1991 Mobutu's government recognizes 66 political parties. The Alliance of Bakongo's application for registration is rejected by the Ministry of Territorial Administration which claims Abako is a tribal grouping.
Aug 1991 A new elite security unit is formed to supervise security and spy on opposition leaders at Mobutu's People's Palace. This unit consists almost exclusively of Ngbandi men and it was trained in South Africa. It is called "the owls" because of its nocturnal shady activities.
Sep 1991 Unpaid paratroopers mutinied and engaged in looting in Kinshasa. France and Belgium ultimately sent in their own forces to restore order and protect foreign nationals. DSP forces were also involved in quelling the riots.
Oct 1991 Reports of looting across the Bas-Zaire region affecting Moande, Lukala, Inkisi, Boma, and Mbanza-Ngungu. Some soldiers are involved. The DSP is thought to have ransacked the offices and blown up the presses of the leading opposition newspaper, Elima.
Nov 1991 Karl-i-Bond and Kyungu broke ranks with the Sacred Union and allied themselves with Mobutu. Karl-i-Bond is named Prime Minister and Kyungu becomes governor of Shaba. Immediately thereafter, Kyungu shifts his attacks against Mobutu to attack the "enemy within" viz. the Luba-Kasai in Shaba. Before long, the Katangans (non-Luba of Shaba) claimed their alliance with Mobutu was to prevent a permanent dictatorship of Luba-Kasai. Violence began in small towns and villages soon after Kyungu took office.
1992 Etienne Tshisekedi co-founds the UDPS (Union for Democracy and Social Progress) opposition party. It is an outlawed organization.
Feb 1992 DSP is used to put down a coup attempt when some military personnel briefly occupied the state-run television station.
Aug 15, 1992 Etienne Tshisekedi replaces Karl-i-Bond as Prime Minister. Luba-Kasai demonstrated in triumph and violence erupted in Shaba. Mass expulsions of Luba-Kasai from Shaba begin. Mobutu attempts to fire Tshisekedi one week after he is appointed by the national conference on the political future of Zaire. Riots also break out in Kinshasa when soldiers protest and loot stores over a failed pay raise.
Dec 1992 France, Belgium, U.S. issue statements of support for the Tshisekedi government.
1993 DSP forces are sent into Shaba to stop ethnic violence there. Many believe Mobutu's government was instrumental in instigating the fighting in the first place.
Feb 1993 Unpaid military personnel again riot in protest over their lack of pay. The DSP, which is always routinely paid, in involved in quelling these riots. Its suppression of the riots is reported to have included the extrajudicial killings of hundreds of looting soldiers. An estimated 1000 people, mostly soldiers, are killed.
Mar 1993 Mobutu dismisses Tshisekedi for a second time and names Faustin Birindwa prime minister of the so-called "government of national salvation." Zaire effectively has two rival governments.
Apr 1993 The Zairean Association of Human Rights reports that ethnic cleansing is occurring in Equateur Province the objective of which is to expel non-natives in anticipation of elections.
Aug 1993 The government seizes crates of military weapons and ammunition in Boma, Bas-Zaire on which was written, "Diocese of Boma, in order to distract the attention of the special services."
Oct 1993 Oxfam launches the largest single aid project in Africa to help the Luba-Kasai who have been expelled from their homes since August 1992.
Dec 1993 Karl-i-Bond and Governor Kyungu declare the Shaba region autonomous.
1994 - 1995 Reports continue to illuminate the plight of the Luba-Kasai. Regional government officials continue to provoke ethnic hatred in Shaba and to expel inhabitants. Governor Kyungu controls local television and much of the press. The pro-Kasai press is hampered by intimidation and attacks by the youth movement Juferi.
Apr 1994 The Sacred Union of Radical Opposition (a coalition of opposition parties) announces that it has founded an army. Its mission is to topple the Mobutu regime.
Jun 1994 Kengo Wa Dondo is appointed prime minister by Mobutu. Etienne Tshisekedi has maintained that he is the only true prime minister since his appointment in 1991 by the national council.
Jul 1994 Two assassination attempts on Tshisekedi's life are made by Mobutu's DSP.
Nov 1994 A group of leaders of the radical opposition go to Matadi in Bas-Zaire planning to hold a rally. They claim Bas-Zaire's governor, Bieya Mbabi, is planning an ethnic cleansing operation. The governor, a Mobutu supporter, denied the accusation and banned the rally.
Jan 1995 Mobutu's prime minister Dondo visits Bas-Zaire.
Aug 1996 After being gradually stripped of their citizenship rights by Mobutu, the Banyamulenge took up arms against the government.
Aug 24, 1996 Kengo wa Dondo was appointed to head the new crisis cabinet of Mobutu Sese Seko. He was to guide the war effort to retake eastern Zaire from rebel forces. Dondo is half Tutsi, half Ngbandi.
Oct 7, 1996 The deputy governor of South Kivu told ethnic Tutsis to leave Zaire. Banyamulenge rebels began attacking government-held towns and Laurent Kabila joined them in their fight against Mobutu. Kabila had a long history as a rebel beginning as a youth leader in a political party allied with Patrice Lumumba. He headed a Marxist organization, the People’s Revolutionary Party, from 1964 to the early 1980s during which time he ruled an enclave among the Bembe people in eastern Kivu Province. He then lived in Dar es Salaam as a businessman before returning to Zaire in 1996.
Oct 24, 1996 Laurent Kabila’s rebel forces seized Uvira on Lake Tanganyika.
Oct 30, 1996 Kabila’s forces seized Bukavu, the capital of South Kivu Province.
Nov 1, 1996 Rebels and Rwandan soldiers captured Goma. About 500 people were killed in battles.
Nov 14, 1996 Kabila’s forces bombed Mugunga refugee camp. Hutu refugees from Mugunga and other camps fled. Up to 700,000 returned to Rwanda and others fled west into the interior. Some of the refugees in Zaire were believed to be hard-line Hutus who had perpetrated the massacre of the Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994.
Dec 17, 1996 Mobutu flew home to Zaire after undergoing treatment for cancer in France. He appointed a new armed forces chief and reshuffled his cabinet in order to launch a counter-offensive against the rebels.
Jan 20, 1997 The government launched an offensive against Kabila’s forces even as they advanced on mineral-rich Shaba region.
Feb 5, 1997 European Community Humanitarian Office commissioner Emma Bonino said at least 500,000 people are threatened by death or starvation as a consequence of the armed conflict in Zaire. The majority of these were Rwandan refugees, some 200,000 of whom were missing in the interior of Zaire after having fled the ADFL.
Mar 7, 1997 Hundreds of soldiers manned opposition strongholds in Kinshasa after dispersing opposition militias trying to gather for a march against Mobutu. The Secretary-General of UDPS (Union for Democracy and Social Progress), Adrien Phongo, was beaten and arrested.
Mar 15, 1997 Kisangani, Zaire’s third largest city, fell to rebel troops.
Mar 23, 1997 Human rights organizations reported that Hutu refugees were being massacred in the East by Kabila’s forces. Kabila troops were dominated by Tutsis from Rwanda and he received military and other support from Angola, Rwanda, and Uganda.
Apr 1997 Kabila’s rebel forces pushed into Equateur and western Kasai provinces. The rebels insisted there would be no sweeping penalties for past misdeeds in Zaire, and they reinstated many Mobutu officials in areas they have captured. The Ngbandi of the Special Presidential Division (DSP) are afraid that Kabila will not be as lenient with them as with others who served Mobutu throughout his rule.
Apr 2, 1997 Etienne Tshisekedi was named Prime Minister after Kengo wa Dondo was forced out of office. Tshisekedi named his own government and offered to negotiate with Kabila. Kabila refused the offer and Mobutu sacked Tshisekedi after a week.
Apr 5, 1997 The town of Mbuji-Mayi in Kasai Province fell to rebel forces. It is the diamond mining center of Zaire and home of opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, a Baluba. Laurent Kabila is also a Baluba, but from neighboring Shaba Province. Both Shaba and Kasai have been operating as de facto autonomous states in recent years.
Apr 8, 1997 Mobutu declared a state of emergency over all of Zaire. Tshisekedi’s supporters clashed with security forces for two days when it became apparent that he would be dropped as Prime Minister.
Apr 9, 1997 Rebels captured Lubumbashi, the capital of Shaba province. It is the second-largest city in Zaire in a region rich in minerals. The DSP put up fierce resistance to the rebels but were eventually beaten by them. General Likulia Bolong was named Prime Minister replacing Etienne Tshisekedi.
Apr 14, 1997 Tshisekedi supporters in Kinshasa closed down the capital for two days in protest over Tshisekedi’s oust from office.
Apr 27, 1997 Kabila gave the United Nations 60 days to repatriate hundreds of thousands of Hutus, many of whose whereabouts were unknown having fled into the interior of Zaire with the advance of Kabila’s rebels. Relief agencies began airlifting Hutu refugees back to Rwanda shortly after Kabila made his announcement.
May 3, 1997 Mobutu’s home town of Lisala was captured by the ADFL. Former Rwandan Hutu troops fought along side Mobutu’s forces as they were driven westward by the ADFL.
May 13, 1997 A night-time curfew was declared in Kinshasa.
May 16, 1997 After it became apparent that he had no choice but to give up power, Mobutu left Kinshasa for his northern palace at Gbadolite. He was expected to soon leave Zaire. South Africa had been attempting to mediate between Kabila and Mobutu, but after several attempts, it was clear that Kabila held the upper hand and Mobutu had no leverage over the take-over of his country.
May 17, 1997 Kabila declared himself president and took office on the 29th.
May 20, 1997 About 2000 of Mobutu’s troops heeded a call by Kabila to turn in their weapons. In the past decade, Mobutu’s army had almost no new recruits and the military was often not paid. The Ngbandi held most of the key military positions under Mobutu, especially within the DSP. They fear wholesale retribution from the rebels and other ethnic groups which suffered under Mobutu’s regime. Kabila needs many of the former military troops to consolidate his power base and build a genuine national army. To this point, his power base consists of military support from Rwanda, Uganda and Angola.
May 23, 1997 Kabila announced some members of his transitional government. The post of Prime Minister, which opposition leaders had hoped would go to Etienne Tshisekedi, who has extensive popular support in Kinshasa and Kasai Province, was abolished. Tshisekedi was excluded from Kabila’s government.
Jun 1997 In early June, there was a settling of scores between the Ngbandi and Mbunzi ethnic groups. Ngbandi is the ethnic group of Mobutu Sese Seko and Mbunzi is the group of former Defense Minister General Makele Liyoko Bokungu. Gen. Bokungu was killed by Mobutu’s guardsmen just before the takeover of Kinshasa by Kabila’s ADFL. Additionally, soldiers of Mobutu’s presidential guard were holding out in Equateur Province with the support of Rwandan Hutus. Clashes between those loyal to Mobutu and members of his army who tried to desert to Kabila’s forces took place in the area around Equateur’s capital Mbandaka. Several hundred soldiers of the new regime were sent to Mbandaka from where they will be deployed to the areas still under the control of Mobutu’s army.
Jun 19, 1997 Laurent Kabila told his officials to do as little as possible to aid a United Nations’ investigation into alleged refugee massacres by Tutsi troops in Kabila’s ADFL. Kabila was reportedly under intense pressure from the Rwandan and Ugandan governments to stymie the U.N. investigation. U.N. officials said they believed killings were continuing in remote areas of Zaire and that 200,000-250,000 refugees were still missing. The United States and the European Union stated they are conditioning aid to the new government on the observance of human rights.
Jun 27, 1997 Opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi and his wife were forcibly taken from their home by security agents after Tshisekedi made a political speech at the University of Kinshasa. He had stated that he thought he and Kabila could harmonize conflicting views about the future of their country but added that foreign troops must leave. The speech violated a two-year government ban on political rallies and activities by anyone other than Kabila’s Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo. Tshisekedi was released after a night under custody.
Sep 7, 1997 Mobutu Sese Seko died of cancer in exile in Morocco.
Oct 1997 Kabila’s government said it detected more than 1000 heavily armed soldiers of the former Rwandan army on its territory in Equateur Province. Most Mobutu loyalists who have remained in the Democratic Republic of Congo have kept a low profile fearing they might become the victims of reprisals by the ADFL. However, no reports of such reprisals have appeared in the press.
Apr 13, 2004 About 200 Ngbandi are arrested in connection with an attack on civilians in the DRC according to the human rights organization, Voice of the Voiceless. The attack was thought to have come from the Special Presidential Gauards Division under Mobutu, which were Ngbandi. (“Rights Group Accuses State of Targeting Ethnic Group of Former DRCongo Leader.” BBC Monitoring International Reports. 13 Apr. 2004.)
Jul 30, 2006 Nzanga, a Ngbandi member, ran for DRC president but lost in the first rounds to Bemba and Kabila (“Congo-Kinshasa; Tension Remains High While Bemba, Kabila Prepare for the Second Round.” Africa News. 8 Sep. 2006).


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Information current as of July 16, 2010