Laurent Desire Kabila
(1939-2001)

Born in the Katanga province of the Belgian Congo (now The Democratic Republic of Congo.) Allied to Patrice Lumumba upon Congo's independence, he rebelled against the state when Lumumba was deposed and killed, fighting in the civil war against the government in 1964-5. When this rebellion was put down by the Congolese army under Joseph Mobuto (qv) Kabila founded the People's Revolutionary Party (PRP), and settled for a decade and a half in the state of South Kivu.

He spent the majority of the eighties and early nineties running a general trading store in the Tanzanian capital Dar es Salaam but in late 1996 Kabila capitalized on the disquiet in Rwanda and Burundi, and its spillover effects in neighbouring South Kivu, to build a force large enough to depose Mobuto. He called this the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL), an army made up of elements of ethnic Tutsis from Rwanda, Kivu and Uganda as well as remnants of the anti-Mobuto forces. The army marched at an incredible rate and were met with either no resistance whatsoever and more usually the fleeing army of Zaire as Mobuto's support collapsed around him.

Kabila became President of Zaire in March 2001, changing the name of the country to The Democratic Republic of Congo. But what looked like a new era a propsperity for the country was soon shattered as Kabila took the bizarre step of abandoning his ADFL partners and backing their Hutu enemies. This provoked a civil war that dragged in the armies of Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia and eventually took his life in January 2001.

Length of Rule - Four years

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