After leading the rebellion which succeeded in the overthrow of Mobutu Sese Seko,Laurent-Désiré Kabila became President of the Democratic Republic of Congo from 1997 till 2001.
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(At a Glance)
Date of Birth: Nov/27/1939
Place of Origin: Congo-Kinshasa
Laurent-Désiré Kabila was born in Jadotville - presently known as Likasi - in the Belgian Congo. He studied political philosophy in France and also attended the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. While there he became friends with Yoweri Museveni who would later become president of Uganda.
`In 1960,Kabila became youth leader of a political party which was allied to Patrice Lumumba,the first Prime Minister of the Congo since its independence. In 1961,Lumumba was overthrown by Mobutu and later on was killed.
With help from Che Guevara,in 1964 Kabila led a revolt by supporters of Lumumba against Mobutu. The revolt was eventually suppressed in 1965 by the Mobutu-led army of the Congo and in 1971, Mobutu changed the country's name to Zaire.
The People's Revolutionary Party (PRP) was founded by Laurent Kabila in 1967 and they established a territory in the Kivu region of the eastern part of Zaire. The territory acquired sustenance through gold mining and ivory trading. Kabila is believed to have gone into exile in Tanzania after the PRP state came to an end during the 1980s. He also established contacts with Julius Nyerere,former President of Tanzania and Paul Kagame,who would become president of Rwanda.
Kabila returned to his home country in 1996 and led the newly formed Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire in a rebellion against Mobutu with help from forces of Burundi,Uganda and Rwanda. The rebellion was successful and Mobutu fled the country in 1997.
In May of that year Joseph Kabila established himself as Head of State and changed the country's name to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Kabila was criticized as having policies not differing much from those of the leaders before him. He was accused of authoritarianism and human rights abuses. Due to these,from 1998,Kabila's former allies in Uganda and Rwanda were against him and supported another rebellion in the DRC which was begun by the Rally for Congolese Democracy. Kabila was however able to prevent the success of the rebellion for a while with the help of his new allies, Angola,Namibia and Zimbabwe. In 1999 peace talks which were held led to the withdrawal of many foreign troops.
However in January 2001,Laurent Kabila was shot in a coup attempt and died a few days later. The coup failed and a few days after his death, Kabila's son, Joseph Kabila took over as President.