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Vol 37 No 24

Published 29th November 1996


A hard homecoming

Without foreign help Mobutu will not be able to quell the eastern rebellion or rein in his quarrelling generals

President Mobutu Sese Seko's heralded return home will do little to turn the tide of defeat and demoralisation. While he retains some authority over the government - he initiated the latest military changes - he lacks the health and vigour to play more than a symbolic role in the country's crisis for the next few months. After that, most authoritative sources suggest, Zaïreans will have to find a new 'Guide'. The armed forces, which have propped up his patronage system since the 1960s, are in disarray. Officially the regular army and gendarmerie are 100,000 strong; in fact, their strength is less than 50,000. Long dead or deserted soldiers have stayed on the pay roll, their tiny salaries filling the pockets of senior officers. More candid officers complain that military planning to defeat the Kivu rebellion was hampered by so many 'ghost soldiers'.

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