Monday, May 16, 2016

KabilaThe region that is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo was first settled about 80,000 years ago. Bantu migration arrived in the region from Nigeria in the 7th century AD. The Kingdom of Kongo remained present in the region between the 14th and the early 19th centuries. Belgian colonization began when King Leopold II founded the Congo Free State, a corporate state run solely by King Leopold. Reports of widespread murder and torture in the rubber plantations led the Belgian government to seize the Congo from Leopold II and establish the Belgian Congo. Under Belgian rule, the colony was run with the presence of numerous Christian organizations that wanted to Westernize the Congolese people.

After an uprising by the Congolese people, Belgium granted the Congo its independence in 1960. However, the Congo was left unstable because tribal leaders had more power than the central government. Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba tried to restore order with the aid of the Soviet Union as part of the Cold War, causing the United States to support a coup led by Colonel Joseph Mobutu in 1965. Mobutu quickly seized complete power of the Congo and renamed the country Zaire. He sought to Africanize the country, changing his own name to Mobuto Sese Seko, and demanded that African citizens change their Western names to traditional African names. Mobuto sought to repress any opposition to his rule, in which he successfully did throughout the 1980s. However, with his regime weakened during the early 1990s, Mobuto was forced to agree to a power-sharing government with the opposition party. Mobuto remained the head of state and promised elections for the next two years that never happened.

In the First Congo War, Rwanda invaded Zaire, which overthrew Mobuto during the process. Laurent-Desire Kabila later took power and renamed the Democratic Republic of the Congo. After a disappointing rule under Kabila, the Second Congo War broke out, resulting in a regional war with many different African nations taking part. Kabila was assassinated by his bodyguard in 2001, and his son, Joseph, succeeded him and later elected president by the Congolese government in 2006. Upon taking office, Kabila quickly sought peace, ending the era of war in Africa. Soldiers were left in the Congo for a few years and a power-sharing government between Kabila and the opposition party was set up. Kabila later resumed complete control over the Congo and was re-elected in a disputed election in 2011. Today, the Congo remains dangerously unstable.

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