Laurent-Désiré Kabila

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Laurent-Désiré Kabila
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Full Name: Laurent-Désiré Kabila
Alias: The Mzee
Origin: Baudouinville, Belgian Congo
Occupation: President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (1997 - 2001)
Goals: Overthrow the Mobutu regime (successful)
Reform the DRC (failed)
Crimes: Human rights violations
War crimes
Torture
Authoritarianism
Corruption
Mass murder
Used Child Soldiers
Type of Villain: Dictator / Brute


The war against the devil continues. But there is still much work to be done and to finish the job we must get to Kinshasa.
~ Laurent-Désiré Kabila

Laurent-Désiré Kabila (November 27, 1939 - January 16, 2001), was a Congolese revolutionary and politician who served as the third president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo since May 17, 1997, when he overthrew Mobutu Sese Seko, until his murder by one of his bodyguards on January 16, 2001. He was succeeded eight days later by his 29-year-old son Joseph.

Biography

Kabila was born into the Luba tribe in the southern province of Katanga. He studied political philosophy at a French university and attended the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, where he met and formed a friendship with Yoweri Kaguta Musevini, the future president of Uganda.

In 1960 Kabila became a youth leader in a political party allied to Congo’s first postindependence prime minister, Patrice Lumumba. In 1961 Lumumba was deposed by Mobutu and later killed. Assisted for a time in 1964 by guerrilla leader Che Guevara, Kabila helped Lumumba supporters lead a revolt that was eventually suppressed in 1965 by the Congolese army led by Mobutu, who seized power later that year; in 1971 Mobutu renamed the country Zaire.

In 1967 Kabila founded the People’s Revolutionary Party, which established a Marxist territory in the Kivu region of eastern Zaire and managed to sustain itself through gold mining and ivory trading. When the enterprise came to an end during the 1980s, he ran a business selling gold in Dar es Salaam.

In the mid-1990s Kabila returned to Zaire and became leader of the newly formed Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire. As opposition to the dictatorial leadership of Mobutu grew, he rallied forces consisting mostly of Tutsi from eastern Zaire and marched west toward the capital city of Kinshasa, forcing Mobutu to flee the country. On May 17, 1997, Kabila installed himself as head of state and reverted the country’s name to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Kabila was born into the Luba tribe in the southern province of Katanga. He studied political philosophy at a French university and attended the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, where he met and formed a friendship with Yoweri Museveni, the future president of Uganda. In 1960 Kabila became a youth leader in a political party allied to Congo’s first postindependence prime minister, Patrice Lumumba.

In 1961 Lumumba was deposed by Mobutu and later killed. Assisted for a time in 1964 by guerrilla leader Che Guevara, Kabila helped Lumumba supporters lead a revolt that was eventually suppressed in 1965 by the Congolese army led by Mobutu, who seized power later that year; in 1971 Mobutu renamed the country Zaire. In 1967 Kabila founded the People’s Revolutionary Party, which established a Marxist territory in the Kivu region of eastern Zaire and managed to sustain itself through gold mining and ivory trading. When the enterprise came to an end during the 1980s, he ran a business selling gold in Dar es Salaam.

In the mid-1990s Kabila returned to Zaire and became leader of the newly formed Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire. As opposition to the dictatorial leadership of Mobutu grew, he rallied forces consisting mostly of Tutsi from eastern Zaire and marched west toward the capital city of Kinshasa, forcing Mobutu to flee the country. On May 17, 1997, Kabila installed himself as head of state and reverted the country’s name to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

As president, Kabila initially banned political activity but in May 1998 promulgated a decree that established a national constituent and legislative assembly. The subsequent arrest of oppositionists, however, undermined the apparent move toward democracy, and allegations of human-rights abuses against Kabila’s forces continued. In August 1998 the Banyamulenge, people of Tutsi origin who had helped bring Kabila to power, launched an open rebellion in the eastern part of the country.

In August 1998, some of the eastern Zaire groups that helped put Kabila in power now opposed him and started a rebellion against his government, accusing him of numerous human rights abuses, including extensive massacres of civilians scale and the apparent favoritism of the president to his own ethnic group for political office. In addition, its former national allies, Uganda and Rwanda (lead by Paul Kagame), began supporting the rebels after their forces invaded both of them in search of guerrillas. However, Kabila found new allies, Angola, Zimbabwe, and Namibia, who sent troops to the Congo to support Kabila's crackdown.

On January 16, 2001, Kabila was shot by a bodyguard at his presidential palace in Kinshasa. Initial accounts stated that he was killed during the attack, but Congolese officials denied the reports. On the 18th, however, it was announced that Kabila had died while on an airplane en route to Harare, Zimbabwe. On January 26 his son, Joseph Kabila, was inaugurated as Congo’s president.

The investigation into Kabila's assassination led to 135 people – including four 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 innocent.