In what is being viewed as an attempt at reconciliation with rebels in the east of the country, DR Congo’s President Joseph Kabila has said he will allow the body of deposed former-ruler Mobutu Sésé Seko to be repatriated.
Former-president Mobutu is buried in Morocco, where he fled via Togo after being ousted in 1997 by rebels led by Laurent Kabila, father of the current president. He died from prostate cancer aged 66, three months after being expelled.
The president made the announcement in a rare parliamentary address in which he pledged to create a new unity government to include “members of the ruling majority as well as the opposition and civil society.”
Mobutu Sésé Seko is still fondly remembered by his supporters who believe one of his achievements was to keep the vast country he founded in 1971 united. His critics accuse him of being a ruthless and corrupt ruler who crushed internal dissent and plundered the then Zaire’s mineral resources. He had also spent millions of dollars on a palace for himself in Gbadolite, deep in the rain forest, which was ransacked after he fled.
His son, Nzanga Mobutu, who is an MP and ally of Mr Kabila, is likely to have been consulted about the plan to reinter his father.