Laurent-Désiré Kabila (November 27, 1939 – January 16, 2001), or simply Laurent Kabila, was President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from May 17, 1997, when he overthrew Mobutu Sese Seko, until his assassination by one of his bodyguards on January 16, 2001. He was succeeded by his son Joseph eight days later.
Kabila was born to a member of the Luba tribe in Baudoinville, Katanga Province, (now Moba, Tanganyika District) in the Belgian Congo. His father was a Luba and his mother was a Lunda. He studied political philosophy in France, and in Yugoslavia at the University of Belgrade.
Later he attended the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.
When the Congo gained independence from Belgium on June 30, 1960 and the Congo Crisis began, Kabila had a role as a “deputy commander” in the Jeunesses Balubakat, the youth wing of the Patrice Lumumba-aligned General Association of the Baluba People of Katanga (Balubakat), actively fighting the secessionist forces of Moise Tshombe. Within months, Joseph Mobutu overthrew Lumumba, and in 1962 Kabila was appointed to the provincial assembly for North Katanga and was chief of cabinet for Minister of Information Ferdinand Tumba.
Kabila established himself as a supporter of hard-line Lumumbist Prosper Mwamba Ilunga. When the Lumumbists formed the Conseil National de Libération, he was sent[by whom?] to eastern Congo to help organize a revolution, in particular in the Kivu and North Katanga provinces.
In 1965, Kabila set up a cross-border rebel operation from Kigoma, Tanzania, across Lake Tanganyika.
Che Guevara assisted Kabila for a short time in 1965. Guevara had appeared in the Congo with approximately 100 men who planned to bring about a Cuban-style revolution. Guevara judged Kabila (then 26) as “not the man of the hour” he had alluded to, being too distracted.
This, in Guevara’s opinion, accounted for Kabila showing up days late at times to provide supplies, aid, or backup to Guevara’s men. The lack of cooperation between Kabila and Guevara contributed to the suppression of the revolt that same year.
In Guevara’s view, of all of the people he met during his campaign in Congo, only Kabila had “genuine qualities of a mass leader”; but Guevara castigated Kabila for a lack of “revolutionary seriousness”.
After the failure of the rebellion, Kabila turned to smuggling gold and timber on Lake Tanganyika. He also ran a bar in Tanzania.
Marxist mini-state (1967–1988)
In 1967, Kabila and his remnant of supporters moved their operation into the mountainous Fizi – Baraka area of South Kivu in the Congo, and founded the People’s Revolutionary Party (PRP).
With the support of the People’s Republic of China, the PRP created a secessionist Marxist state in South Kivu province, west of Lake Tanganyika.
The PRP state came to an end in 1988 and Kabila disappeared and was widely believed to be dead. While in Kampala, Kabila reportedly met Yoweri Museveni, the future president of Uganda.
Museveni and former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere later introduced Kabila to Paul Kagame, who would become president of Rwanda. These personal contacts became vital in mid-1990s, when Uganda and Rwanda sought a Congolese face for their intervention in Zaire.
First Congo War
Kabila returned in October 1996, leading ethnic Tutsis from South Kivu against Hutu forces, marking the beginning of the First Congo War. With support from Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi, Kabila pushed his forces into a full-scale rebellion against Mobutu as the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL). He used children in the conflict and it was estimated that up to 10 000 children served under him.
By mid-1997, the ADFL had almost completely overrun the country and the remains of Mobutu’s army. Only the country’s decrepit infrastructure slowed Kabila’s forces down; in many areas, the only means of transit were irregularly used dirt paths. Following failed peace talks held on board the South African ship SAS Outeniqua, Mobutu fled into exile on May 16.
The next day, from his base in Lubumbashi, Kabila proclaimed himself president. Kabila suspended the Constitution, and changed the name of the country from Zaire to the Democratic Republic of the Congo—the country’s official name from 1964 to 1971.
He made his grand entrance into Kinshasa on May 20 and was sworn in on May 31, officially commencing his term as president.
The Flag of the Democratic Republic of the Congo used by Kabila.
Kabila had been a committed Marxist, but his policies at this point were a mix of capitalism and collectivism. He declared that elections would not be held for two years, since it would take him at least that long to restore order.
While some in the West hailed Kabila as representing a “new breed” of African leadership, critics charged that Kabila’s policies differed little from his predecessor’s, being characterised by authoritarianism, corruption, and human rights abuses. As early as late 1997, Kabila was being denounced as “another Mobutu.
Kabila was also accused of self-aggrandizing tendencies, including trying to set up a personality cult, with the help of Mobutu’s former minister of information, Dominique Sakombi Inongo. Sakombi Inongo branded Kabila as “the Mzee,” and posters reading “Here is the man we needed” (French: Voici l’homme que nous avions besoin) appeared all over the country.
By 1998, Kabila’s former allies in Uganda and Rwanda had turned against him and backed a new rebellion of the Rally for Congolese Democracy (RCD), the Second Congo War.
Kabila found new allies in Angola, Namibia, and Zimbabwe, and managed to hold on in the south and west of the country and by July 1999, peace talks led to the withdrawal of most foreign forces.
Joseph Kabila succeeded his father
In the afternoon of January 16, 2001 Kabila was shot by one of his bodyguards, Rashidi Muzele, who was killed as he attempted to flee the scene. According to a Rwandan former intelligence chief and allegations made by Democratic Republic of Congo’s officials; his assassination was committed by some of his bodyguards and masterminded by Rwanda. According to the documentary film Murder in Kinshasa, made by Marlène Rabaud and Arnaud Zajtman; A Lebanese diamond dealer allegedly organized the logistics of the assassination.
Eleven Lebanese nationals were executed in the evening of the assassination as part of a punitive campaign by the DRC’s authorities who managed to keep power, despite the assassination of their President. The exact circumstances are still disputed. Kabila reportedly died on the spot, according to DRC’s then health minister Dr Mashako Mamba, who was in the next door office when Kabila was shot and arrived immediately after the assassination. The government claimed that Kabila was still alive, however, when he was flown to a hospital in Zimbabwe after he was shot so that DRC authorities could organize the tense succession.
The Congolese government announced that he had died of his wounds on January 18. One week later, his body was returned to Congo for a state funeral and his son, Joseph Kabila, became president eight days later. By doing so, DRC officials were accomplishing the “verbal testimony” of the deceased President. Then Justice Minister Mwenze Kongolo and Laurent-Désiré Kabila’s aide de camp Eddy Kapend have reported that Laurent Kabila had told them that his son Joseph, then number two of the army, should take over, if Laurent-Désiré Kabila was to pass away.
The investigation into Kabila’s assassination led to 135 people – including 4 children – being tried before a special military tribunal. The alleged ringleader, Colonel Eddy Kapend (one of Kabila’s cousins), and 25 others were sentenced to death in January 2003, but not executed. Of the other defendants 64 were jailed, with sentences from six months to life, and 45 were exonerated. Some individuals were also accused of being involved in a plot to overthrow his son. Among them was Kabila’s special advisor Emmanuel Dungia, former ambassador to South Africa. Many people believe the trial was flawed and the convicted defendants are innocent.
Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga; born Joseph-Desiré Mobutu; 14 October 1930 – 7 September 1997) was the military dictator and President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (which Mobutu renamed Zaire in 1971) from 1965 to 1997. He also served as Chairperson of the Organisation of African Unity in 1967–1968. Once in power, Mobutu formed an authoritarian regime, amassed vast personal wealth, and attempted to purge the country of all colonial cultural influence, while enjoying considerable support from the United States due to his anti-communist stance.
During the Congo Crisis, Belgian forces aided Mobutu in a coup against the nationalist government of Patrice Lumumba in 1960 to take control of the government. Lumumba was the first leader in the country to be democratically elected, but he was subsequently deposed in a coup d’état organised by Colonel Mobutu and executed by a Katangese firing squad led by Julien Gat, a Belgian mercenary.Mobutu then assumed the role of army chief of staff, before taking power directly in a second coup in 1965. As part of his program of “national authenticity,” Mobutu changed the Congo’s name to Zaire in 1971 and his own name to Mobutu Sese Seko in 1972.
Mobutu established a single-party state in which all power was concentrated in his hands. He also became the object of a pervasive cult of personality. During his reign, Mobutu built a highly centralized state and amassed a large personal fortune through economic exploitation and corruption, leading some to call his rule a “kleptocracy.The nation suffered from uncontrolled inflation, a large debt, and massive currency devaluations. By 1991, economic deterioration and unrest led him to agree to share power with opposition leaders, but he used the army to thwart change until May 1997, when rebel forces led by Laurent Kabila expelled him from the country. Already suffering from advanced prostate cancer, he died three months later in Morocco.
Mobutu became notorious for corruption, nepotism, and the embezzlement of between US$4 billion and $15 billion during his reign, as well as extravagances such as Concorde-flown shopping trips to Paris. Mobutu presided over the country for over three decades. He has been described as the “a hero by the people of Congo kinshasa.
Joseph Kasa-Vubu, alternatively Joseph Kasavubu, (1910 [other sources have 1913, 1915 and 1917] – 24 March 1969) was the first President of the Congo-Léopoldville (1960–65), today the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Little is known about Joseph Kasa-Vubu’s early years, including his actual date of birth. It is known that he was born in the village of Kuma-Dizi, and his early education was in the Kikongo language. Kasa-Vubu was the grandson of a Chinese laborer, brought to the Congo to work on a railroad line between Matadi and Léopoldville. His mother was a member of the Bakongo tribe. In 1925, he took the Christian name Joseph and his parents sent him to receive a Catholic education in Mbata Kiela Kasa-Vubu went on to study theology and philosophy at the Kabwe seminary until 1939, but before graduation, opted to become a teacher, rather than a priest. He later converted to Protestantism.
Kasa-Vubu went on to work as an agronomist, book keeper and civil servant, before attaining the rank of chief clerk, the highest level of employment available to Congolese under Belgian colonial rule. Kasa-Vubu began semi-clandestine political organizing work while still employed by colonial authorities.
In 1955, Kasa-Vubu was elected leader of the Alliance des Bakongo (ABAKO) composed primarily of his own people from around the Congo River. Under his leadership, the group swept the first open municipal Leopoldville elections in 1957, and Kasa-Vubu was elected mayor of the Dendale district of the city.
Kasa-Vubu quickly became known as one of the first Congolese leaders to call for independence. At first, he advocated for independence from Belgium on a 30-year timeline, but shortened the timetable as the ABAKO movement gained in strength.In his inauguration speech as mayor of Dendale, Kasa-Vubu reiterated his demand for independence, drawing a reprimand from Belgian colonial authorities, which only strengthened his image as a Congolese leader.
On 4 January 1959, an ABAKO political gathering, organized by Kasa-Vubu erupted into violence, sparking the 1959 Léopoldville Riots, a pivotal moment in the Congolese struggle for independence. Kasa-Vubu was set to address the crowd on African nationalism, but colonial authorities banned the meeting. Unable to calm the crowd, thousands of Congolese began rioting. Kasa-Vubu was arrested, along with several other leaders, and imprisoned for inciting the riot. He was released two months later.
Upon Congo’s independence from Belgium, Kasa-Vubu’s ABAKO party won a significant number of votes in the new parliament, but did not win an outright victory. In a political compromise, it was agreed that Patrice Lumumba, of the Mouvement National Congolais (MNC) would be prime minister, and Kasa-Vubu would face Jean Bolikango, a former mentor in the ABAKO movement, for the presidency. Kasa-Vubu was elected president by the Congo’s new national assembly, taking office on 30 June 1960.
The new republic was immediately disrupted by political and military strife and regional secessionist movements, while the central government was paralyzed by conflict between the conservative Kasa-Vubu and his nationalistic prime minister Lumumba. While Lumumba advocated for a stronger central government, Kasa-Vubu leaned towards a more decentralized form of government that gave autonomous powers to provinces under a federal system.
Kasa-Vubu was regarded as rather mysterious in his motivations and his actions, frequently preferring to stay silent or give ambiguous answers when confronted. His role as head-of-state was theoretically ceremonial and far less influential than Lumumba’s role as prime minister. During the immediate upheaval following independence, Kasa-Vubu took few steps and made few definitive statements, even as Lumumba appealed for international assistance—to the Americans, the United Nations and the Soviet Union.
Main article: Congo Crisis
On 5 September Kasa-Vubu dismissed Lumumba but the prime minister refused to accept this and in turn announced Kasa-Vubu’s dismissal, creating a stalemate that was only ended on 14 September with army commander Joseph-Désiré Mobutu’s seizure of power and arrest of Lumumba. Lumumba was later handed to Moise Tshombe’s secessionist forces in the southern province of Katanga and murdered.
Over the next five years, Kasa-Vubu presided over a succession of weak governments. In July 1964 he appointed former Katangan secessionist leader Moise Tshombe as prime minister with a mandate to end the Simba Rebellion. Tshombe recalled the exiled Katangese gendarmerie and recruited white mercenaries, integrating them with the Armée Nationale Congolaise (ANC). Many of these mercenaries had fought for Katanga when Tshombe was leader of the breakaway province. Despite the successes against the Simba rebels, Tshombe’s prestige was damaged by the use of white mercenaries and western forces. He lost the support of Kasa-Vubu and was dismissed from the post of prime minister in October 1965. Mobutu seized power for a second time on 25 November 1965, this time deposing Kasa-Vubu and subsequently declaring himself head of state.
Death and legacy
Mobutu placed Kasa-Vubu under house arrest, before eventually allowing the deposed president to retire to his farm in Mayombe. Kasa-Vubu died in a hospital in Boma four years later in 1969, possibly after a long illness.
Kasa-Vubu had six children. Following his death, his family went into exile, first to Algeria and then Switzerland. One of his daughters, Justine M’Poyo Kasa-Vubu eventually returned to the Congo (then Zaire) in the 1990s. In 1997, she was appointed a cabinet minister by Laurent Kabila and then ambassador to Belgium.
Patrice Émery Lumumba (2 July 1925 – 17 January 1961) was a Congolese independence leader and the first democratically elected leader of the Congo.
As founder and leader of the mainstream Mouvement National Congolais (MNC) party, Lumumba played an important role in campaigning for independence from Belgium.
Within twelve weeks of Congolese independence in 1960, Lumumba’s government was deposed in a coup during the Congo Crisis following his attempt to solicit support from the Soviet Union against Katangan secessionists.
This led to growing differences with President Joseph Kasa-Vubu and chief-of-staff Joseph-Désiré Mobutu as well as foreign opposition from the United States and Belgium.
Lumumba was subsequently imprisoned by state authorities under Mobutu and executed by firing squad under the command of the Katangan authorities.
The United Nations, which he had asked to come to the Congo, did not intervene to save him.
Belgium, the United States, and the United Kingdom have all been accused of involvement in Lumumba’s death.
The 2015 election was held on 7 May 2015 in line with the date set by the fixed term parliament Act. While pre-election polls had all predicted a close race and a hung parliament, the surprising result on the night was a clear victory by the Conservative Party: with 37% of the popular vote, they won a narrow overall majority in parliament with 331 of the 650 seats.
The other most significant result of the election was the Scottish National Party winning all but three of the 59 seats in Scotland, a gain of 50. This had been widely forecast as opinion polls had recorded a surge in support for the SNP following the 2014 independence referendum, and SNP party membership had more than quadrupled from 25,000 to over 100,000, meaning that 1 in every 50 of the population of Scotland was a party member.
Labour suffered its worst defeat since 1987, taking only 31% of the votes and losing 40 of its 41 seats in Scotland. The Liberal Democrats lost 49 of their 57 seats, as they were punished for their decision to form a coalition with the conservatives in 2010. The UK Independence Party (UKIP), rallying voters against Europe and against immigration, secured 13% of the vote and came second in over 115 races, but won only one seat in parliament. Cameron now has a mandate for his austerity policies that shrink the size of government, and a challenge in dealing with Scotland. Likewise the Green Party of England and Wales saw a rise in support but retained just its one MP.
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