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Léon Kengo Wa Dondo


Former Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo and president of the DRC Senate.

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Created: 25th Jun 2008
Modified: 25th Jun 2008
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Kengo was chosen Prime Minister, while parliament was in transition, as an attempt to neutralize the challenge from the country's then most popular politician Étienne Tshisekedi.

Kengo expelled members of the Lebanese community from Zaire for alleged involvement in the illegal trade of conflict diamonds; however, his credibility is said to have been challenged due to the Mobotu regime's past involvement in trade of conflict diamonds, a regime in which Kengo had played an important role.

After the beginning of the Congo civil war, in December 1996, Kengo became the leader of a crisis cabinet which sought to defeat the rebellion of Laurent Kabila. He was undermined by many Mobutu supporters because of his Tutsi origins, as Kabila's rebels were allied with the Tutsi governments of Rwanda and Burundi.

As Kabila's armies advanced through the country, Kengo was also criticized for not conducting the war very well. He announced his resignation in March 1997 and left office in April 1997. The Mobutu government fell a month later, and Kengo retired from politics. In 2003, he was charged with money laundering in Belgium.

Following his return to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kengo backed Jean-Pierre Bemba in the 2006 presidential election; Bemba was defeated by President Joseph Kabila in the second round of the election. Kengo was elected as a Senator from Équateur province and then somewhat unexpectedly elected as president of the DRC Senate, defeating Léonard She Okitundu, the candidate of the majority coalition, taking 55 votes against 49 for Okitundu.
Biographical Information
Léon Kengo Wa Dondo
(At a Glance)
Date of Birth: May/22/1934
Gender: male
Place of Origin: Congo-Kinshasa

Léon Kengo Wa Dondo served as prime minister several times under Mobutu Sese Seko in Zaire. As one of the most powerful figures in the regime, Kengo was a strong advocate of globalization and free-market economics.

Kengo was born in Libenge, Equateur province, Belgian Congo (later Zaire and now Democratic Republic of Congo). He was the son of a Polish Jewish father and a Tutsi mother. His original name was Leon Lubicz. He changed his name to Kengo Wa Dondo in 1971 during Mobutu's Africanization campaign.

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