Special Presidential Division

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Special Presidential Division (1986-1997)
Special Presidential Brigade (1985-1986)
Active 1985-1997
Country Zaire
Size ~5-10,000
Part of Zairean Armed Forces (FAZ)
Base Kinshasa
Equipment included artillery
Engagements First Congo War
Gen. Etienne Nzimbi Ngbale Kongo wa Basa

The Special Presidential Division (DSP, after the original French Division Spéciale Présidentielle) was an elite military force created by Zairian president Mobutu Sese Seko in 1985[1] and charged with his personal security. Called the Special Presidential Brigade before being enlarged in 1986, it was one of several competing forces directly linked to the president, along with the Civil Guard and Service for Action and Military Intelligence.[2] Trained by Israeli advisors, the DSP was among the few units paid adequately and regularly.[3] It was commanded by Mobutu's cousin, General Etienne Nzimbi Ngbale Kongo wa Basa.[4] The soldiers were recruited only from Mobutu's own tribe.[5] The force was used to deal with internal opponents or suspected opponents. People were taken away, tortured, imprisoned without trial, exiled to another part of the country, or simply disappeared.[5]

After the Rwandan Patriotic Army invaded northern Rwanda at the start of the civil war, Mobutu sent several hundred DSP troops to assist the government of Juvénal Habyarimana.[6][7] In 1993, the DSP was sent to quell unrest in Masisi, North Kivu but inflamed the situation after it sided with the Hutu residents against the indigenous Bahunde.[8] A 1996 United Nations report noted that Prime Minister Étienne Tshisekedi and his staff were subject to routine surveillance and harassment by DSP soldiers.[9]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ "Report on the situation of human rights in Zaire, prepared by the Special Rapporteur, Mr. Roberto Garretón, in accordance with Commission resolution 1994/87", United Nations Economic and Social Council
  2. ^ "The Stalled Transition", Human Rights Watch, 1997
  3. ^ Zaire: A Country Study, "Army"
  4. ^ Martin Meredith (2005) The Fate of Africa: From the Hopes of Freedom to the Heart of Despair, a History of Fifty Years of Independence, New York: Public Affairs, p. 535
  5. ^ a b David van Reybrouck. Congo: The Epic History of a People. HarperCollins, 2012. p. 386. ISBN 978-0-06-220011-2. 
  6. ^ Linda Melvern, Conspiracy to Murder: The Rwandan Genocide, Verso: New York, 2004, ISBN 1-85984-588-6, p. 14
  7. ^ Zaire: A Country Study, "Zaire as a Military Aid Donor"
  8. ^ Mahmood Mamdani (2001) When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism, and the Genocide in Rwanda, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, pp. 252-253
  9. ^ "Communication No 542/1993 : Democratic Republic of the Congo. 16/04/96.", Human Rights Committee on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 16 April 1996

Further reading[edit]

  • Central Intelligence Agency, 'Zaire: The Military Under Mobutu [Deleted],' document created 1/11/1988, accessible via Freedom of Information Act Electronic Reading Room, http://www.foia.cia.gov/, accessed 4 June 2010
  • Gérard Prunier, From Genocide to Continental War: The "Congolese" Conflict and the Crisis of Contemporary Africa, C. Hurst & Co, 2009, ISBN 1-85065-523-5