Mouvement National Congolais
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politics and government of
the Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Mouvement National Congolais (English: Congolese National Movement, MNC) is a political party in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The party was founded in 1958 as a nationalist, pro-independence group in the Belgian Congo. The MNC was a national party with substantial support in the whole of Congo, while most other parties were based primarily on tribal allegiances and garnered support in their respective provinces.
In 1959, as the country approached independence, the MNC was split by internal conflicts between the left-leaning Patrice Lumumba and the moderate Albert Kalonji. Lumumba retained control of the party (now called Mouvement National Congolais-Lumumba), while Kalonji and his followers split off to found the Mouvement National Congolais-Kalonji. Lumumba's group advocated a centralized government, while Kalonji's proposed a more federalist government.
Both groups competed in Congo's first parliamentary elections in June 1960, in which Lumumba's party emerged as the largest party. Lumumba formed a coalition with the more conservative and federalist ABAKO party led by Joseph Kasa-Vubu. Lumumba was elected Prime Minister, while Kasavubu became Congo's first President.
However, the country quickly plunged into the Congo Crisis, facing mutinies among the soldiers and separatism in Katanga (led by Moise Tshombe) and South Kasai (led by Albert Kalonji). In September, Lumumba and Kasavubu fell out and Kasavubu dismissed Lumumba and instead appointed Joseph Iléo, a member of the Kalonji party as prime minister. In turn, Lumumba declared the President deposed, while Iléo failed to gain parliamentary approval. The stalemate was ended when Lumumba's aide and partisan, Colonel Joseph Mobutu arrested Lumumba, who was later transported to Katanga and killed there under dubious circumstances.
MNC members remained a major players on different sides: Albert Kalonji remained in control of Kasai, in December Lumumba's deputy Antoine Gizenga formed another rebel government at Stanleyville and in February 1961 Iléo was again appointed prime minister at Léopoldville. In August, following protracted negotiations between all factions, Kasavubu appointed the moderate Cyrille Adoula as prime minister and Gizenga to rejoined the central government. Relations soon broke down again and in January 1962, Gizenga was arrested. Adoula remained prime minister until 1964, when Kasavubu appointed former separatist Moise Tshombe to the post to quell another revolt in the east.
In November 1965, following another fall-out between president and prime minister, Mobutu again seized power and under regime d'exception appointed himself President. Mobutu blamed the five years of turmoil on "the politicians" and decreed: "For five years, there will be no more political party activity in the country."
This meant the end of the MNC's legal activity until 1990 when, following the end of the Cold War and due to economic problems and domestic unrest, Mobutu agreed to lift the ban on other political parties and appointed a transitional government that would lead to promised elections.
The MNC-Lumumba refounded and in 1992 elected Lumumba's eldest son François as their leader.
Another of Lumumba's sons, Guy-Patrice Lumumba is also active in Congolese politics.