Congo, Democratic Republic of the

Flag of Democratic Republic of Congo
  1. Congo, Democratic Republic of the Main Page
  2. Newly Independent Congo Plunges into Civil War
  3. Power-Hungry Mobutu Gains Control, Wreaks Havoc
  4. Laurent Kabila Topples Mobutu
  5. Son of Assassinated Leader Kabila Oversees End of Congo's Civil War
  6. Government and Rebels Led by Laurent Nkunda Declare a Cease-fire
  7. Kabila Reelected in Vote Marred by Violence
  8. Lubanga Case Establishes Child Soldiers as an International Crime
  9. Former Rebels Resume Battle With the Government
Laurent Kabila Topples Mobutu

Laurent Kabila and his long-standing but little-known guerrilla movement launched a seven-month campaign that ousted Mobutu in May 1997, ending one of the world's most corrupt and megalomaniacal regimes. The last of the CIA-nurtured cold war despots, Mobutu deftly courted France and the U.S., which used Zaire as a launching pad for covert operations against bordering countries, particularly Marxist Angola. Mobutu's disastrous policies drove his country into economic collapse while he siphoned off millions of dollars for himself.

The country was renamed the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1997, which had been its name before Mobutu changed it to Zaire in 1971. But elation over Mobutu's downfall faded as Kabila's own autocratic style emerged, and he seemed devoid of a clear plan for reconstructing the country. In Aug. 1998, Congolese rebel forces, backed by Kabila's former allies, Rwanda and Uganda, gained control of a large portion of the country until Angolan, Namibian, and Zimbabwean troops came to Kabila's aid. In 1999, the Lusaka Accord was signed by all six of the countries involved, as well as by most, but not all, of the various rebel groups.

Next: Son of Assassinated Leader Kabila Oversees End of Congo's Civil War
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