Internal ethnic conflicts were revived in 1992. A wave of
violence began after the Nguza Karl-i-Bond deposition in the
Shabar region in the southwest when members of the Lunda
tribe to which he belonged attacked Luba's, the Tshisekedi
tribe; 2,000 people perished. Thousands of Lubas left the
Shaba region after their homes were destroyed. Security
forces only intervened several weeks after the conflict
the 12 banks operating in Zaire temporarily closed in 1992
due to lack of funds. Inflation reached 16,500%. According
to information from the Population Crisis Committee,
headquartered in Washington, Zaire was among the world's 10
poorest countries in 1992.
The government expropriated the oil companies, as they
put it, to secure the national economy.
In December, the Prime Minister declared that the
national currency had been withdrawn and a new one was put
into circulation. Still, Mobutu continued to pay salaries to
the soldiers with the old currency.
In early 1993, there were direct confrontations between
Mobutu's private guard and rebellious soldiers who were
furious at receiving invalid money. These clashes led to the
loss of more than 1,000 lives in Kinshasa. The city was
ravaged by looting, fires and assaults by the excited
On February 24, Mobutus tanks surrounded the building
where the Republic's Supreme Council, which was the
transitional body set up by the national conference, held
and demanded of the 800 members that the currency introduced
under Mobutu should still apply.
As a result of the crisis, the US, Belgium and France
demanded in a note to Mobutu that it agreed to share power
with the Tshisekedi of the Provisional Government. In
response, Mobutu deposed Prime Minister Tshisekedi. In early
1993, Faustin Birindwa was appointed his successor.
Since Tshisekedi had never been appointed by Mobutu, he
was in fact without power, as he had no control over either
the army or the government agencies. Mobutu retained control
of Gbadolite, close to the border with the Central African
Republic. The president did not venture back to the capital
The US Department of Foreign Affairs requested France and
Belgium to seize Mobutu's fortunes, as a powerful remedy
directly directed at him without detrimental impact on
either the country's economy or the North American and
European investments. It is estimated that Mobutu - one of
the world's richest men - had a personal fortune of over $ 4
In the economic chaos and with the payment of the
external debt suspended, the informal economy became
dominant in the urban areas. Economic and political
uncertainty continued through 1994.
The genocide in Rwanda and the ensuing massive influx of
refugees - involving thousands of those responsible for the
killings - created conflicts in eastern Zaire.
The rebel movement FPR's takeover of power in Rwanda
gained several western countries, including France to ease
the pressure on Mobutu, who was once again considered a
potential ally, following the victory of the
English-speaking Tutsis in the neighboring country. It
strengthened the president's position and enabled the
appointment of Joseph Kengo Wa Dondo as prime minister.
The government statement made in mid-1995 that the
transitional government should remain in power for another 2
years led to a new wave of protests. Clash in late July
between police and protesters demanding Tshisekedi appointed
prime minister left 10 dead.