Mobutu Sese Seko
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|Mobutu Sese Seko|
|President of Zaire|
24 November 1965 – 16 May 1997
|Preceded by||Joseph Kasa-Vubu|
|Succeeded by||Laurent-Désiré Kabila|
|Born||14 October 1930
Lisala, Belgian Congo
|Died||September 7, 1997 (aged 66)
|Political party||Popular Movement of the Revolution|
|Spouse(s)||Marie-Antoinette Mobutu (Deceased)
Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu wa Za Banga (born Joseph-Desiré Mobutu; 14 October 1930 – 7 September 1997), commonly known as Mobutu or Mobutu Sese Seko (/ /), was the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (also known as Zaire for much of his rule) from 1965 to 1997. While in office, he formed an authoritarian regime, amassed vast personal wealth, and attempted to purge the country of all colonial cultural influence, while also maintaining an anti-communist stance.
During the Congo Crisis, Joseph-Désiré Mobutu led a coup against the nationalist government of Patrice Lumumba in 1960 to take control of the government of Congo-Léopoldville; he soon became the army chief of staff. In a second coup (1965), he assumed the office of Prime Minister in 1966 and then established a presidential form of government headed by himself in 1967. As part of his program of “national authenticity,” Mobutu changed the Congo's name to Zaïre in 1971 and his own name to Mobutu Sese Seko in 1972. Power was concentrated in Mobutu, who established a one-party state and a cult of personality. During his reign, Mobutu built a highly centralized state and amassed a large personal fortune through economic exploitation and corruption, leading some to call his rule “kleptocracy.” The nation suffered from uncontrolled inflation, a large debt, and massive currency devaluations. By 1991 economic deterioration and unrest led him 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 Kabila expelled him from the country. Mobutu died in 1997 of prostate cancer in Morocco.
Mobutu Sese Seko is notorious for the corruption, nepotism, and embezzlement of billions of dollars that took place during his reign, as well as extravagances such as Concorde-flown shopping trips to Paris. Mobutu presided over the country for some four decades, despite many reports of abuses and human-rights violations. As such, many have described him as the "archetypal African dictator".