Celebrations were held on Wednesday (19 November) throughout the Republic of Zaire, to mark the twentieth anniversary of the country's armed forces.
LV & CU Zairean President Mobutu Sese Seko arrives in open jeep and drives past ranks of troops in Kinshasa, Zaire. (2 SHOTS)
SV Mobutu steps out of jeep.
SV Foreign military observers seated. (2 SHOTS)
SV Troops parading past as Mobutu takes salute. (2 SHOTS)
SV Naval contingent parades past.
SV Foreign guests watch as medical corps marches past with man or stretcher. (2 SHOTS)
SV Military observers watch as light tanks drive past. (2 SHOTS)
CU & SV President salutes as heavy tanks drive past. (2 SHOTS)
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Background: Celebrations were held on Wednesday (19 November) throughout the Republic of Zaire, to mark the twentieth anniversary of the country's armed forces. In the capital, Kinshasa, President Mobutu Sese Seko took the salute at a military parade attended by foreign diplomatic and military representatives.
SYNOPSIS: General Mobutu arrived wearing his uniform of Supreme Commander of the forces. The military celebrations came less than a week before the fifteenth anniversary of the military-backed coup that brought him to power.
The existing Armed Forces were formed following a mutiny in the National Guard only five days after the country's independence from Belgium in 1960. The country has suffered several internal revolts, and many observers have viewed General Mobutu's achievement in overcoming the spate of bloodshed and rebellion that had devastated the country, as a major feat. But the economic picture is grim: it has suffered a steady decline, with foreign debts now exceeding four billion dollars.
By presenting himself as a bulwark against Soviet encroachment in Africa, President Mobutu has drawn reluctant aid from the west. And, although, Zaire has the potential to become one of Africa's richest states, inflation is running at more than a 100 percent a year, with stories that corruption is rife.
According to the Institute for Strategic Studies, Zaire, which follows a policy of conscription, has around thirty-four thousand personnel in its armed forces.