Mouvement National Congolais

The Congolese National Movement (French: Mouvement national Congolais, or MNC) is a political party in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Congolese National Movement
Mouvement National Congolais
PresidentPatrice Lumumba
Founded1958 (1958)
Succeeded byUnified Lumumbist Party
(not legal successor)
HeadquartersKinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
IdeologyCongolese nationalism
Civic nationalism
Colours    Blue, red, yellow



Patrice Lumumba, leader of the MNC-L faction and Congo's first Prime Minister

The MNC was founded in 1958 as an African nationalist party within the Belgian Congo. The party was a united front organization dedicated to achieving independence "within a reasonable" time and bringing together members from a variety of political backgrounds in order to achieve independence.[1] The MNC was created around a charter which was signed by, among others Patrice Lumumba, Cyrille Adoula and Joseph Iléo. Joseph Kasa-Vubu notably refused to sign, accusing the party of being too moderate.[2] By the end of 1959, it claimed to have 58,000 members.[3]

The MNC was a national party with substantial support in the whole of Congo, while most other parties were based primarily on regional or ethnic allegiances and garnered support in their respective provinces.

The MNC was the biggest nationalist party in the Belgian Congo but had many different factions within it which took different stances on a number of issues and was increasingly polarized between moderate évolués and the more radical mass membership.[4] In July 1959, Iléo attempted to split the party and create a more radical party based on support of federalism rather than centralization, but his group failed to achieve mass defections from the main party.

As a result of the split, the remaining majority of the party took the name MNC-Lumumba (MNC-L) but the split also divided the MNC between the Lumumba-ists who held the Stanleyville region and its faction, which became the MNC-Kalonji (MNC-K; after Albert Kalonji who became its leader after his release from prison) which attracted support in Élisabethville (modern-day Lubumbashi) and among the Baluba ethnic groups.[5]

Both groups competed in the Congo's first parliamentary elections in June 1960, in which Lumumba's party emerged as the largest nationalist faction in the country. Lumumba formed a coalition with the more conservative and federalist ABAKO party led by Joseph Kasa-Vubu. Lumumba was elected Prime Minister, while Kasa-Vubu became Congo's first President.

Independence and the Congo CrisisEdit

MNC-Kalonji members protest against the Lumumba Government.

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 Kasa-Vubu fell out and Kasa-Vubu 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 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, Kasa-Vubu 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 Kasa-Vubu 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."

Ban and anti-Mobutu acitivtyEdit

This meant the end of the MNC's legal activity until 1990. The party continued to operate in exile, however, where it allied with other anti-Mobutu groups.[6] While the MNC-L continued to suffer from factionalism and splintered into further groups,[7] the MNC-L main faction came under the leadership of François Lumumba, Patrice Lumumba's son. In the 1980s, the MNC-L formed a coalition with the Front for the Liberation of Congo – Patrice Lumumba (FLC-L), a militant group which waged a low-level insurgency in Zaire.[6]

In the early 1990s, an anti-Mobutu rebel group known as the National Council of Resistance for Democracy (Conseil National de Résistance pour la Démocratie, CNRD) became active. The CRND, led by André Kisase Ngandu, posed as the armed wing of the MNC-L.[8] Researcher Thomas Turner stated that Kisase Ngandu had broken away from one of the MNC-L splinter factions before forming the CRND.[7] In 1996, MNC-L President Lambert Mende Omalanga voiced his support for Kisase Ngandu and Laurent-Désiré Kabila. The two had become the leaders of the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (AFDL) rebel coalition, fighting in the First Congo War to topple Mobutu.[9]

Following the fall of Mobutu's regime in 1997, MNC factions began to participate in regular national politics. One MNC-L faction led by Patrice Lumumba's cousin, Albert Onawelho Lumumba, was very critical of the rule of Laurent-Désiré Kabila who had taken power as President. In contrast Patrice Lumumba's daughter, Julienne Lumumba, became part of Kabila's government.[10] Lumumba's heritage is also claimed by the Unified Lumumbist Party (PALU) led by Lumumba's former deputy, Antoine Gizenga, the former Prime Minister. Another of Lumumba's sons, Guy-Patrice Lumumba is also active in Congolese politics.

Notable membersEdit


  1. ^ Zeilig 2008, p. 64.
  2. ^ Zeilig 2008, pp. 64–5.
  3. ^ Zeilig 2008, p. 76.
  4. ^ Zeilig 2008, pp. 82–3.
  5. ^ Zeilig 2008, pp. 83–5.
  6. ^ a b Luntumbue 2020, p. 141.
  7. ^ a b Turner 2002, p. 88.
  8. ^ Reyntjens 2009, p. 104.
  9. ^ Misser, Francois (19 December 1999). ""Papa" ist nicht willkommen" ["Dad" is not welcome]. taz (in German). Retrieved 14 September 2021.
  10. ^ Misser, Francois (15 December 1999). "Ein Belgier zersägte die Leiche" [A Belgian sawed up the corpse]. taz (in German). Retrieved 14 September 2021.