Politics

Presidents Of The Democratic Republic Of The Congo (Congo-Kinshasa)

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, also known as Congo-Kinshasa or the DR Congo, is a country in Central Africa. The nation was formerly a Belgian colony from 1908 to 1960. In 1960, Democratic Republic of Congo gained independence from Belgium. Parliament elected Joseph Kasavubu as the country’s first president. The President is the most senior officer in the country. He is the head of state and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The President appoints the Prime Minister, and they work in close collaboration with the nation’s leadership. The president is elected for a five-year term that is renewable only once.

Joseph Kasavubu

Kasavabu was the first president of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Joseph Kasavubu received his education from a Catholic mission center. He started off his career as a teacher and progressed to become chief clerk the highest position available to Congolese natives during Belgium rule. He was also the leader of a powerful cultural organization of the Bakongo people known as Abako.

In 1957, Joseph was elected mayor of the Dendale district, in elections oversaw by the Belgian authorities. The position propelled him to the presidency in 1960 when Congo’s first national elections were held. Patrice Lumumba was elected Prime Minister. Hardly three months into the nation’s leadership, Joseph Kasuvubu dismissed the Prime Minister from the office. Kasuvubu served as President of DR Congo from 1960 to 1965 when Mobutu Sese Seko seized power from him.

Mobutu Sese Seko

Mobutu Sese Seko went to missionary schools and served in the Congolese army under Belgian rule. He rose to the highest rank of sergeant major and later left the army to pursue journalism. Upon Congo’s independence, Mobutu was appointed the secretary of state for national defense.

Mobutu enjoyed support from the United States and successfully carried out two coups in DR Congo. The first coup in 1960 seized power from Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba. In the second coup in 1965, he overthrew President Kasavubu and took up the nation’s presidency.

The nation’s name changed from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the Republic of Zaire under Mobutu’s leadership. Mobutu’s leadership was accused of major corruption and mismanagement of resources. He was accused of amassing a great deal of the nation’s wealth for himself. President Mobutu was removed from power by Laurent Kabila in the 1997 Congo War.

Laurent Kabila

Laurent Kabila was born in Katanga during the Belgian rule. He was educated in France and Tanzania. He joined a political youth group tied to the nation’s first Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba. In union with Lumumba’s supporters, Laurent Kabila led a revolution against Mobutu Sese Seko. He started the Congo war in 1996 with the help of neighboring countries such as Uganda, Burundi, and Rwanda. He succeeded in overthrowing President Mobutu Sese Seko in May 1997.

Laurent Kabila became the third President of the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1997. He encountered difficulties in his efforts to rebuild DR Congo such as the second Congo war. President Laurent was assassinated by one of his bodyguards in January 2001. His Son Joseph Kabila succeeded him.

Joseph Kabila

Joseph Kabila is the current president of the DR Congo. He was born along with his twin sister Janet Kabila in 1971. Joseph Kabila spent most of his childhood in Tanzania and later joined his father in fighting Mobutu’s government. He led a unit that comprised of child soldiers in fighting the First Congo War. When Laurent Kabila became president, Joseph went to train in National defense in China. He served in the nation’s army in high rankings until his father’s assassination in 2001. Joseph took up the presidency from his father at a young age of 29 years. He won the Presidential elections in 2006 and 2011 amidst protests. His leadership has suffered criticism for the conflict in Congo and mismanagement of country’s resources.

Current State of the Presidency

The Democratic Republic of the Congo has had four presidents since receiving its independence. The position was created in the first constitution in 1960. The powers of the president have changed since the time of independence. Today, the nation enjoys democracy after suffering under the dictatorship of President Mobutu Sese Seko.

Presidents Of The Democratic Republic Of The Congo (Congo-Kinshasa)Term in Office
Joseph Kasa-Vubu
1960-1965
Mobutu Sese Seko (Joseph-Désiré Mobutu)
1965-1997
Laurent-Désiré Kabila
1997-2001
Joseph Kabila
2001-Present

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