30th June marks the twentieth anniversary of independence for the former Belgian colony of Zaire.
GV LEOPOLDVILLE, 1960: Statue of King Leopold, flags flying and thousands of people massed in streets. (2 SHOTS)
SV & GV King Badouin of Belgium reading independence declaration to parliament. (2 SHOTS)
GVs & SVs Katanga flag raised, armoured vehicle along road firing and troops running for cover. (5 SHOTS)
SV Men handing in guns.
1965: CU President Mobutu Sese Seko drinking with Ministers, surrounded by crowd, saluting and walking away. (3 SHOTS)
GV Copper mines at Kolwezi; SVs mine complex and rail head. (4 SHOTS)
SVs Mobutu with troops on patrol (3 SHOTS)
SVs Bridge being repaired as helicopter flies overhead. (3 SHOTS)
GVs & CUs Women in market, goods on display with prices. (3 SHOTS)
GV Man picking through litter on road.
GV EXTERIOR People's Bank & CU Zairean notes with portrait of Mobutu. (3 SHOTS)
1980: SV Delegates in parliament applauds arrival of Mobutu who walks onto rostrum.
CU Mobutu addressing audience in French.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: 30th June marks the twentieth anniversary of independence for the former Belgian colony of Zaire. The central African country was colonised in 1985, but power was returned to black rulers in 1960. President Mobutu Sese Seko has been the country's leader for fifteen years. He has been called an autocratic patriarch, who projects himself as paramount chief of the nation-tribe and spiritual guide of its people. But he has had little success in pulling the country out of a spiralling economic crisis.
SYNOPSIS: Thousands of Congolese filled the streets of Leopoldville to witness the end of colonialism and, hopefully, the end of the bloody independence war.
King Badouin of the Belgians formally proclaimed the birth of Zaire in the parliament building. Many Belgian civilians had already left the county fearing anarchy after signs that the change to African rule would not be a smooth one. King Badouin's address was followed by a bitter one by Premier Lumumba, who spoke of the humiliation of colonial rule.
Two weeks later fighting broke out again when Moise Tshombe declared a separate state in Katanga. The United Nations was called in at the request of the new central government. Their task -- to prevent civil war and to remove the European mercenaries that Mr. Tshombe depended on. The UN forces engaged in several clashes with the Katangese -- but eventually the revels were disarmed and disbanded.
Five years later the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, General Mobutu, took over the Presidency of the country still seething with the aftermath of rebellions in the north and east.
Zaire's main foreign exchange earner -- copper-comes from mines in the rebel areas. But production in the re-named Shaba province has fallen and attempts to boost output to over 500,000 tonnes have failed.
The province has remained the sanctuary for the group called the National Liberation Front of the Congo -- a movement that opposes the rule of President Mobutu. In 1977 and 1978 they claimed to have inflicted heavy losses on government forces, and disrupted the vital mining industry.
Government forces eventually defeated the rebels, but only after key transportation links were destroyed.
Today, Zaire's foreign debt runs at more than four billion dollars. Diplomats say this is a result of mismanagement and corruption. Few salaries enable a family to provide even basic foodstuffs and the gap between rich and poor widens. Inflation in the past two years has sometimes reached two hundred percent.
And to make matters worse, the withdrawal of old currency and the issuing of new bills old currency and the issuing of new bills wiped out the scant savings of many of the poor.
In an address to parliament in February, president Mobutu criticised the causes of Zaire's economic ills. But despite his problems Mr. Mobutu seems to have a firm grasps on the leadership.
Yet twenty years after independence few people in Zaire have reaped the rewards of a potentially very wealthy country. And the problems of a developing economy remain.