The Democratic Republic of the Congo is the largest country in sub-Saharan Africa. It is nearly the size of western Europe, and it is home to 79 million people. The country has suffered from armed violence for much of the past fifty years and has not seen a peaceful transition of presidential power since gaining independence in 1960. Currently, there are many armed groups operating in North Kivu and South Kivu provinces. The president, Joseph Kabila, defeated one of the most dangerous armed groups, M23, in 2013. Unfortunately, many of its members joined other armed groups shortly after.
President Joseph Kabila
Kabila is 46 years old and has held power in DRC since 2001 when his father, Laurent Kabila, was assassinated. Joseph Kabila’s current term ended in December 2016, but he has retained his power without holding elections since then. Elections are now scheduled for December 2018 (BBC).
In December 2017, 15 UN peacekeeper were killed by the Allied Democratic Forces, a rebel group that originated in Uganda. Throughout 2017, 1.7 million people were forced from their homes due to conflict (BBC). Hundreds of thousands of children are at risk of starvation as a result of the fighting (The Economist).
Succession of Power
- 1960 – DRC gains independence from Belgium
- 1965 – Joseph Mobutu (Mobutu Sese Seko) takes power through a coup; later renames the country “Zaire”
- 1997 – Laurent Kabila takes power through a rebellion; Rwanda provides support; the country is renamed “Democratic Republic of Congo”
- 2001 – Joseph Kabila takes power when his father Laurent is assassinated
“The Economist” – refers to January 6, 2018 edition, “The Never-ending Term”