National Order of Zaire, Military Division, Grand Cross Breast Star (1968-1977, 1997-)
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The National Order of Zaire was established by the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1968. It continued to be awarded in the Republic of Zaire from 1977-1997 and is currently awarded by the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The President of the Republic is the Grand Master.
The Order is conferred upon Congolese citizens in recognition of a minimum of 21 years of meritorious service to the nation. This service may be in a public, civic, military, or private capacity. The Order may also be awarded posthumously or to foreigners, but only under exceptional circumstances.
All members of the Order are received as Knights. Promotion to Officer may be made after 5 years as a Knight, promotion to Commander may be made after 5 years as an Officer, promotion to Grand Officer may be made after 3 years as a Commander, and promotion to a Grand Cross may be made after 3 years as a Grand Officer. These service requirements may be waived when the Order is conferred upon Congolese or foreign government officials.
There are two versions of the Order that differ in design and inscription according to the time period in which they were awarded. The first version, awarded in the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 1968-1977, and again since 1997, features blue enamel and a blue ribbon. The reverse inscription translates to "Democratic Republic of the Congo, Order of Zaire." The second version was awarded in the Republic of Zaire from 1977-1997 and features green enamel and a green ribbon. The reverse inscription translates to "Republic of Zaire, Order of Zaire." Both versions have an obverse inscription that translates to "Peace, Justice, Labour."
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