Kengo Wa Dondo

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Léon Kengo Wa Dondo (born May 22 1935) served as the "first state commissioner" (a title equivalent to prime minister) several times under Mobutu Sese Seko in Zaïre. He held little real power, but was a strong advocate of globalization and free-market economics.

Kengo was born in Libenge, Equateur province, Belgian Congo (later Zaire and now Democratic Republic of Congo). He was the son of a Polish father and a Tutsi mother. His original name was Leon Lubicz. He changed his name to Kengo Wa Dondo in 1971 during Mobutu's Africanization campaign.

Kengo served as Prime Minister for the first time from 1982 to 1986, appointing able technocrats to important positions, such as Munga Mibindo, President Delegate General of the National Electrical Utility (SNEL). He then served as foreign minister from 1986 to 1987 and as Prime Minister again from 1988 to 1990. During the early 1990s Mobutu allowed a transitional parliament to be set up, and Kengo was chosen Prime Minister by it in 1994 as a compromise candidate who could work with Mobutu and also the Parliament. He expelled members of the Lebanese community from Zaire for alleged involvement in the illegal trade of conflict diamonds.

Shortly after the beginning of the Congo civil war, in December 1996, Kengo became the leader of a crisis cabinet which sought to defeat the rebellion of Laurent Kabila. He was undermined by many Mobutu supporters because of his Tutsi origins, as Kabila's rebels were allied with the Tutsi governments of Rwanda and Burundi. As Kabila's armies advanced through the country, Kengo was also criticized for not conducting the war very well. He announced his resignation in March 1997 and left office in April 1997. The Mobutu government fell a month later, and Kengo retired from politics. In 2003, he was charged with money laundering in Belgium.


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Kengo Wa Dondo

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