“People started with bad habits and then it became business as usual. At some point we need to stop all that,” he said.Corruption is widespread in his country, and Mr. Mobutu proposed establishing a German-style parliamentary system of government via a constitutional referendum as one means of curbing it.
During his father’s rule, corruption was rampant under a one-party system that crushed political opposition. Mr. Mobutu said that, despite those problems, the country had security, which many Congolese still clamor for.
“Under President Mobutu, we had problems as well, but we had security. Nobody was messing with the Congolese people,” he said.
Describing himself as a reform candidate, Mr. Mobutu insisted that his father’s legacy has not hurt him.
“I am not here to defend the government of President Mobutu. I am my own man. … I believe in accountability,” he said.
Earlier this week, the Obama administration issued a memorandum waiving restrictions on aid to Congo because of a 2008 law that restricts U.S. assistance to foreign militaries that enlist child soldiers.
Rights groups and Western officials say the Congolese military and the rebels recruit boys as soldiers. Girls are used as sex slaves.
Mr. Mobutu said the U.S. must hold the Congolese government accountable.
“A banker would ask for a guarantee for lending money, so it is very important whether you are a banker or a country that funds another country,” he said, adding that U.S. aid is essential because it is aimed at military training programs in the Congo.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
Ashish Kumar Sen is a reporter covering foreign policy and international developments for The Washington Times.
Prior to joining The Times, Mr. Sen worked for publications in Asia and the Middle East. His work has appeared in a number of publications and online news sites including the British Broadcasting Corp., Asia Times Online and Outlook magazine.
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