Page:Statesman's Year-Book 1899 American Edition.djvu/834

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478

CONGO INDEPENDENT STATE.

Constitution and Government.

The Congo Independent State has succeeded to the Congo International Association, founded in 1883 by Leopold 11. , King of the Belgians. That Association, having obtained the recognition of its sovereignty by treaties in 1884 and 1885, -svith most of the European nations aud the United States of America, adhered, February 26, 1885, io the resolutions of the Congress of Berlin. These resolutions, collected in a " General Act, " establish freedom of trade in the basin of the Congo, and declare absolutely free the navigation of the Congo, its tributaries, and the lakes and canals connected with it ; they lay down rules for the protection of the natives and the suppression ot the slave trade, and impose on the powers which signed the Act the obligation to accept the mediation of one or more friendly governments should any serious dispute occur concerning the territories of the conventional basin of the Congo. An International Conference at Brussels in 1890 authorised the Government of the Independent State to levy certain duties on imports.

The State was placed under the sovereignty of Leopold II., King of the Belgians, on the basis of personal union with Belgium, but it has declared itself perpetually neutral in accordance with the provision of Chapter III. of the General Act of Berlin. By a will dated August 2, 1889, the King has bequeathed to Belgium all his sovereign rights in the State. On July 31, 1890, the territories of the State were declared inalienable, and a Convention of July 3, 1890, between Belgium and the Independent State, reserved to the former the right of annexing the latter after a period of ten years.

The Central Government at IBrussels consists of the King of the Belgians, and, under his orders, a Secretary of State, who is cliief of the departments of Foreign Affairs, Finance, and the Interior. A Governor-General repre- sents the King at Boma and administers the territories of the State in accord- ance with the King's orders.

The precise boundaries of the Independent State were defined by the neutrality declarations of August, 1885, and December, 1894, after treaties with Germany, November 8, 1884 ; Great Britain, December 16, 1884 ; the Netherlands, December 27, 1884 ; France, February 5, 1885 ; Portugal, Febi-uary 14, 1885, and May, 1891 ; and by treaties concluded with Great Britain, May 12, 1894, and France, August 4, 1894. The State includes a small region on the north bank of the river from its mouth to ilanyanga ; French territory intervening between this last station and the mouth of the Ubangi, whence the State extends northwards to the Ubangi River and the Bomu River, north-east to the watershed of the Congo basin, eastwards to 30" E. long. , and Lake Tanganika, south-east to Lake Bangweolo and southern watershed of the Congo basin to Lake Dilolo, south-west to the course of the Kassai river, thence to 7° S., the river Kwilu, 8' S., the river Kwango, and the parallel of Nokki.

The territory is divided into fifteen administrative districts : — Banana, Boma, Matadi, the Falls, Stanley Pool, Kwango Oriental, Kassai, Lake Leopold