All About The Democratic Republic of Congo
All About The Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), previously named Zaire was the personal property of brutal Belgian King Leopold II in the late 19th century, who exploited its people ruthlessly to extract its great mineral resources and to grow and export rubber for the growing international automobile market. Leopold's army, the Force Publique, adopted a terrifying brutal policy towards the black African Congolese people to ensure their free labor.
It is estimated that half of the native Congolese population died in the period 1885-1908 because of Leopold's administration’s brutal systematic reign of terror. This period in DCR history is known as the African Holocaust. After independence, the Force Publique was renamed the Congolese National Army or ANC.
DRC acquired independence in 1960 after 52 years under Belgian state rule but quickly descended into political turmoil. One hundred thousand white Europeans left the country soon after independence. The first President of the The Democratic Republic of Congo Joseph Kasavubu and Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba quickly had major conflicts.
Patrice Lumumba was the first Prime Minister of the independent Democratic Republic of the Congo from June until September 1960. He played a significant role in the transformation of the Congo from a colony of Belgium into an independent republic. Ideologically an African nationalist and Pan-Africanist, he led the Mouvement National Congolais (MNC) party from 1958 until he was kidnapped and killed by militants from the mineral rich Katanga Province.
In 1965, the Congolese Army's Chief of Staff, Joseph Mobutu, took power in a coup, Mobutu, then called Joseph Mobutu Mobutu quickly set about nationalizing foreign owned companies and renamed the country, The Republic of Zaire in 1971. Corruption reigned supreme and the DRC economy nosedived when Mobutu focused his attention on increasing his own personal wealth estimated to be worth 5 billion US dollars by 1984.
Mobutu gave free reign to his cabinet, leaving them to accumulate personal fortunes. Whenever any individual became too rich or powerful Mobutu imprisoned, tortured, and then reinstated them to both retain their loyalty and keep them in their place. Infrastructure crumbled and all but his Special Presidential Division could guarantee a regular wage.
For a brief period in 1975, the media was forbidden from mentioning any name but Mobutu's. US President Reagan hosted Mobutu at the White House on three separate occasions, and when Katangan rebels invaded from Angola in 1977, French and Belgian troops came to his aid, with logistical support from the US.
Mobutu was eventually overthrown in 1997 by long-time rebel Laurent-Désiré Kabila, who commanded an invading army, supported by the Rwandan and Ugandan governments. Relations between Rwanda and Mobutu had been strained since 1994 when Mobutu appeared sympathetic towards the radical Hutus who had initiated the genocide of Tutsis - many of whom had fled into Eastern Zaire. Mobutu retained his position for 32 years through several sham elections, as well as through brutal force.
Kabila exiled Mobutu and renamed Zaire the Democratic Republic of Congo. In August 1998, Kabila regime was itself challenged by a second insurrection again backed by Rwanda and Uganda. Troops from Angola, Chad, Namibia, Sudan, and Zimbabwe intervened to support Kabila's regime. In January 2001, Kabila was assassinated by his bodyguards and his son, Joseph Kabila, was named head of state. An estimated five million people died in the ensuing civil war. His son Joseph Kabila is the current president and in 2002 successfully negotiated the withdrawal of the last Rwandan troops from the East of the country.
In 2009, following a resurgence of conflict in the eastern DRC, the government signed a peace agreement with the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP), a primarily Tutsi rebel group. The DRC continues to experience violence committed by other armed groups including the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, the Allied Democratic Forces, and assorted Mai Mai militias. The DRC Constitution bars President Joseph Kabila from running for a third term; on November 6, 2017, The Democratic Republic of Congo announced that the much-delayed elections to replace President Joseph Kabila would take place in December 2018.
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