The Full Wiki

Laurent-Désiré Kabila: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Laurent-Desiré Kabila

In office
May 17, 1997 – January 18, 2001
Preceded by Mobutu Sese Seko (as President of Zaire)
Succeeded by Joseph Kabila Kabange

Born November 27, 1939(1939-11-27)
Baudouinville, Belgian Congo
Died January 18, 2001 (aged 61)
Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Political party AFDL
Spouse(s) Sifa Mahanya
Profession Rebel leader
Religion Islam

Laurent-Désiré Kabila (November 27, 1939 – January 18, 2001) was President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from May 1997, when he overthrew longtime dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, until his own assassination in January 2001. He was succeeded by his son Joseph.


Early life

Kabila was born to a member of the Luba tribe in Baudoinville, Katanga, (Now Moba, Tanganyika Province) in the Belgian Congo. His father was Luba, while his mother was Lunda. He studied political philosophy in France and attended the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.

Congo Crisis

When the Congo gained independence in 1960 and the Congo Crisis began, Kabila was 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. Lumumba was overthrown by Joseph Mobutu within months, and by 1962, Kabila was appointed to the provincial assembly for North Katanga and was chief of cabinet for Minister of Information Ferdinand Tumba. He established himself as a supporter of hard-line Lumumbist Prosper Mwamba Ilunga. When the Lumumbists formed the Conseil National de Libération, he was sent 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.[1]

During the Mobutu dictatorship

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. In Guevara's opinion, Kabila (then 26) was "not the man of the hour" he had alluded to, being more interested in consuming alcohol and bedding women. This, in Guevara's opinion, was the reason that Kabila would show up days late at times to provide supplies, aid, or backup to Guevara's men. The lack of cooperation between Kabila and Guevara led to the revolt being suppressed that same year[2]. In Guevara's view, of all of the people he met during his campaign in Congo, Kabila was the only man who had "genuine qualities of a mass leader" but castigated him for a lack of "revolutionary seriousness"(cf page 244 Ernesto "Che" Guevara The African Dream - Publisher: Harvill Panther).

In 1967, Kabila and his remnant of supporters moved their operation into the mountainous Fizi-Baraka area of South Kivu 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 mini-state included collective agriculture, extortion and mineral smuggling. The local military commanders were aware of the PRP enclave and reportedly traded military supplies in exchange for a cut of the extortion and robbery profits. By the late 1970s and early 1980s, Kabila had amassed considerable wealth and established houses in Dar es Salaam and Kampala.

The PRP state came to an end in 1988 and Kabila disappeared and was widely believed to be dead.

While in Kampala, he reportedly met Yoweri Museveni, the future leader 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 were looking for a Congolese face for their intervention in Zaire.[3]

War and presidency

Flag of the Democratic Republic of Congo used by Kabila

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 Burundi, Uganda and Rwanda, Kabila pushed his forces into a full-scale rebellion against Mobutu as the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL). By mid-1997, the ADFL had made significant gains and following failed peace talks in May 1997, Mobutu fled the country, and Kabila declared victory from Lubumbashi on May 17, suspending the Constitution and changing the name of the country from Zaire to Democratic Republic of Congo. He later made his grand entry into Kinshasa on May 20 to effectively commence his tenure as President.

Kabila had been a committed Marxist, but his policies at this point were a mix of capitalism and collectivism. 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. 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.

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). Kabila found new allies in Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola and managed to hold on in the south and west of the country and in July 1999 peace talks led to the withdrawal of most foreign forces.


However, the rebellion continued and Kabila was shot during the afternoon of January 16, 2001 by one of his own staff, Rashidi Kasereka, who was then killed. The assassination was part of a failed coup attempt. Kabila may have been alive when he was flown to Zimbabwe after the assassination; the Congolese government confirmed that he had died there on January 18. One week later, his body was returned to Congo for a state funeral and his son, Joseph, became president ten days later.

The investigation into the assassination led to 135 people 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. Of the other defendants 64 were jailed, with sentences from six months to life, and 45 were exonerated.

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ Kevin C. Dunn, "A Survival Guide to Kinshasa: Lessons of the Father, Passed Down to the Son" in John F. Clark, ed., The African Stakes of the Congo War, Palgrave MacMillan: New York, 2004, ISBN 1-4039-6723-7, p. 54
  2. ^ Mfi Hebdo
  3. ^ Dunn, p. 55

External links

Preceded by
Mobutu Sese Seko
as President of Zaire
President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Succeeded by
Joseph Kabila


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address