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Separatist movements in the Democratic Rep. of Congo

Last modified: 2022-10-22 by bruce berry
Keywords: kivu | kwilu | congo | gbenye | bukavu | doubt | katanga |
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Kwilu and Kivu

[Congo, Rep. Dem., 1960] image by Vincent Morley, 08 Jan 1997

From the Flag Bulletin, vol. 3, No. 4 (Summer 1964), p. 63:

"Finally, an old flag has again been raised in the centre of Africa. A revolt against the central Congolese government at Leopoldville [now Kinshasa] has broken out in Kwilu and Kivu provinces. The Kivu rebels have established a Revolutionary Government of the Eastern Congo with headquarters at Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi. The Ruzizi Valley in Kivu is controlled by the rebels who claimed to be led by Patrice Lumumba, who in fact was killed in 1961. Their flag is the blue and gold flag with six stars which was used by the Congo from 1960 to 1963".
Jos Poels, 12 Sep 1996

Bukavu Republic (?)

Flag of Bukavu Republic image by Toino Guifeiro,  21 Feb 1999

I added in my pages a alternative image for the flag of the Republic of Bukavu. I include in first time the flag according Oleg Tarnowski. Now, I include the flag according Lucien Philippe. I believe that the version of Philippe is more sure. Philippe say that the flags "is the Katanga flag without the three cross because the crosses are a a secessionist symbol of Katanga, and the Bukavu flag is not that of  Katanga.
Jaume Ollé, 18 Apr 1997

As Bukavu has always been the capital of Kivu it always has used its armorial bearings — which look very different from what you have shown. It has 3 symbolic volcanoes and the lake. It never has been used as a flag.
Caroline Vervalcke, 16 May 1999

There were attempts at a secession of Kivu and neighbouring areas in the past two years, but the flag shown here is much older. I do not know much, but apparently Bukavu was one of the two centres of Gbenye's “People's Republic of Congo”, generally described as following the footsteps of Patrice Lumumba. The other centre was Kisangani (formerly Stanleyville) and all this took place in 1964-65. So this Katanga-like flag is somewhat strange, because (according to W. Smith 75 [smi75b]) Gbenye's republic must have used the seven-star flag [as shown above].
Thânh-Tam Lê, 31 Mar 1999

Republic of Kivu

 image by Ivan Sache, 06 July 2020

On 01 July 2020 (Independence Day), flags of an alleged "Republique du Kivu" appeared at different sites in the town of Bukavu. On 02 July, during the Council of Ministers, President Félix Tshisekedi ordered the security forces to arrest the perpetrators, who should be sued.  Several people blamed the hoisting of these flags as a provocation aimed at stirring violence in Kivu.

The flag is horizontally divided yellow-blue by a thin black horizontal stripe charged with a white star in the centre. "REPUBLIQUE DU KIVU" is written in black letters in the yellow stripe.

Images of the flag can be seen on various news websites, here and here.
 Ivan Sache, 06 July 2020

Republic of Kongo-Central

  Image by Olivier Touzeau, 03 April 2012

According to the federal republic of Kongo-Central (extending around Cabinda in Bas-Congo province of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and parts of the Republic of Congo) should have a blue flag with five (3+2) machetes. On the webpage where the drawing of the flag can be seen, a declaration dated 2008 is shown.

This proposal is not the first, since the Republic of Kongo-Central was first mooted in 1959 and had a revival in 1994 with another flag.  A document on  shows not only as a drawing, but in real use, a blue flag with a red disc and a yellow star with in the center the emblem of the Alliance of the Bakongo (ABAKO), which has as its main element a shell.

The flag was in use at least between 1994 and 2000, but may have been the flag of the 1959 Republic of Kongo-Central since the document where this flag is shown clearly states that there is a continuity between the declaration of independence of 1959 and its revival in 1994/2004.  Pictures dated 1994-1995-1996 show this flag in use.

  Image by Olivier Touzeau, 03 April 2012

Some of the details about the history of the Republic of Kongo-Central taken from this document, and especially from a memorandum by P.A. Tamankueno Muana-Muele (Prime Minister of the clandestine government of Kongo-Central and President of the ABAKO in Exile requesting the German federal government to introduce to the United Nations a resolution recognizing the independent state of Kongo-Central) prepared on  13 January 2004.  Although the text of the Memorandum is obviously very subjective, some parts of this text give interesting clues about the origins of the Republic of Kongo-Central.

"The political party ABAKO “Alliance of the Bakongo”, was created in 1950 in Leopoldville, while under the Belgian Colonial rule, successively headed by Edmong Nzeze Nlandu, his founder, and by Joseph Kasa-Vubu, his first General President, both deceased, comes forward today for the first time to request from the German Federal Authorities to abandon the trap of Berlin 1885 and the one on the Consensus on the creation of the R.D.C. on 30 June 1960. It can do it by introducing a resolution in the UN, recognizing the existence of the Republic of Kongo-Central (independent State of Kongo), rehabilitated and proclaimed on 04 January and 13 January 1959 by the Revolution of the People of Kongo, headed by this party in Leopoldville, capital of the Belgian Congo."
"It is important to note that the Independent State of Kongo is the central part of the Kingdom of Kongo, divided in Berlin. This independent State of Kongo is therefore politically synonymous to the Republic of Kongo-Central proclaimed by the ABAKO in 1959."

"Coming back to the Colonization, the ABAKO Party is making clear that the Belgian Congo, the result of the annexing of the Northern and Eastern Kingdoms of the Independent State of Kongo, was part of this colonization policy in Central Africa. The Kongo people always fought against colonization."

"Therefore, as soon as the ABAKO Party was founded in 1950, it and the Kongo People engaged in a clandestine political struggle against the occupation of Kongo-Central by Belgium. The Leaders of the ABAKO Party studied all the conventions stemming from the Berlin Conference in 1885 and noticed that the right to self-determination and independence of each nation included in the Independent State of Kongo by the Belgian colonial power was envisioned."
"The date of 13 January 1959 in the history of the Belgian colonization in Central Africa must be brought to your attention. It was on that day that Belgium asked the rest of the Belgian Congo, by the way of a governmental
declaration, which refused any act of independence, by the way of a vote on December 20th,1959.  It included the Kasai, the Katanga, the Kivu, the Uele or Stanleyville and the Equator (Mbandaka) or Coquilhatville, which always waited for the promise from Belgium to grant independence."

"Rejecting totally the Belgian governmental declaration and the elections, previously mentioned, the ALBAKO Party decided for the immediate and unconditional independence on 13 January 1959 and set up the Government of the People of Kongo, preceded by the proclamation of the Republic of Kongo-Central with the President of the ABAKO as President before 1960.  In front of this unexpected situation, the colonial power organized a round table discussion in Brussels in 1960. It resulted in a series of agreements and commitments between the Belgium government, the ABAKO Party and the remaining pans of the Belgian Congo. It led to the foundation of the DRC on 30 June 1960, which remained in existence until 30 June 1970, without any disturbance. ...  It is in those conditions that Belgium proclaimed the immediate and unconditional independence on 30 June 1960. "
"Already on 30 June 1960, until the time of the solemn declaration of independence, the Prime Minister, P.E. Lumumba, produced a speech full of insults, not planned by the protocol. Hence the beginning of troubles and rebellions which will follow, without mentioning attempted coups d'etat, massacres and assassinations, which are still part of the world scene today."
"Instead of waiting the 10 year period, granted to the DRC i.e. until June 30th, 1970, the Katanga led by Mr Moise Tschombe , helped by 10,000 Belgian paratroopers and the Kasai, led by Mr. A. Kalondji, proclaimed the independence of the State of Katanga and Kasai. Had they respected the deadline, their acts wouldn’t have had been treated as rebellions and secessions after 30 June 1970."

"Anyway, and within the framework of the agreements and commitments on the creation of the DRC and on the agreed meeting, the ABAKO Party was kept informed day by day of the visit to Leopoldville of His Majesty‘ King Bandouin I between 17 June and 30 June 1970, followed by a large Belgian delegation."

"But the dictator Mobutu, who seized power through a coup on 24 November 1965 asked for a delay and in the meantime, physically eliminated all the leaders of the ABAKO Party.  He was able to confiscate the copy of the Declaration of the postponement, which was kept by His Eminence Joseph DIANGENDA - spiritual leader of the Kimbanguiste Church - until his murder by poisoning by Mobutu himself. 

"If the delegation of the ABAKO Parry and the People of Kongo at the round table conference in Brussels had known that they would have had to deal with sides that wouldn’t respect those agreements and commitments, the conference in  Brussels wouldn’t have had taken place and the DRC would not have not been  founded without the people of Kongo."

"At the same time, in one of its previous paper, the ABAKO Party stated that the former Belgian Congo has become a case for the International Law Courts. On this subject, this party, owner of the immediate and unconditional independence of 04 January 1959, has already informed the international community, that what ever happens in the former Belgian Congo, without this party has no political and historical legitimism. It is a complicity of those parties which brought in an unexpected agreement that led to the creation of the DRC."

"Through this paper, the ABAKO Party has exposed the two clandestine conferences that took place in 1959 and 1994 in the occupied Kongo-Central, under the dictatorship of Mobutu which led to the Rehabilitation or
Declaration of the Republic of Kongo-Central, putting in place a clandestine fighting government, in full activity up until this day."
Olivier Touzeau, 03 April 2012