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Democratic Republic Of The Congo History Timeline

1200 - 1800

  • (1200 - 1400) Kingdom of Kongo included (current day) northern Angola and extreme western Congo
  • (1482) Portuguese explorer, Diogo Cao, discovered mouth of Congo River, first European to establish trade relationship with Kongo Kingdom
  • (1500 - 1800) British, Dutch, French, Portuguese engaged in slave trade, exported Congolese natives to colonial interests
1800s
  • (1840 - 1872) Scottish explorer, David Livingstone, explored Congo River and surrounding area
  • (1870s) King Leopold II of Belgium made plans to colonize Kongo
  • (1874 - 1877) British explorer, Henry Stanley, navigated Congo River to Atlantic Ocean
  • (1879 - 1887) King Leopold II hired Henry Stanley to establish private colony in Congo basin
  • (1885) European leaders recognized King Leopold's claim to Congo region at Conference of Berlin
  • (1885) King Leopold announced establishment of Congo Free State
  • (1891 - 1892) Belgians conquered copper-rich Katanga region
  • (1892 - 1894) Leopold gained control over Eastern Congo's slave trade
  • (1890 - 1908) Congolese were pressed into forced labor for harvesting rubber and ivory, building of transportation and infrastructure; millions of Congolese killed by Leopold's enforcement squads
1900s
  • (1902) E. D. Morel of Liverpool began investigation into what was taking place in the Congo
  • (1904) Britain authorized Roger Casement to investigate Morel's claims of abuses in Congo; he estimated Congolese population had been cut in half by violence, starvation, disease during reign of Leopold
  • (1904) Morel and Casement founded Congo Reform Association to collect and publish evidence of abuses
  • (1908) Belgian Parliament annexed several areas of Congo basin, renamed it Belgian Congo
  • (1908 - 1960) Belgian agents administered colony, divided into provinces; mining for cobalt, copper, diamonds and gold worked by slave labor; agricultural land parceled to European companies
  • (1955) Belgian professor Antoine van Bilsen published treatise called "Thirty Year Plan for the Political Emancipation of Belgian Africa" for granting Congo increased self-government
  • (1959) Riots broke out after Belgian officers tried to disperse crowds holding political rally in Leopoldville
  • (1960) Congo became independent, Patrice Lumumba named prime minister, J0seph Kasavubu, president
  • (1960) Congolese soldiers rebelled against Belgian officers, more than 25,000 Belgians forced to leave the country
  • (1960) UN authorized peacekeeping mission to Congo
  • (1960) Moise Tshombe declared Katanga independent of Prime Minister Lumumba's rule
  • (1960) President Kasavubu dismissed Prime Minister Lumumba; Lumumba was arrested
  • (1961) Lumumba executed by firing squad
  • (1961 - 1963) Tshombe continued declaring Katanga Province as independent, supported by Belgian troops
  • (1961 - 1963) Albert Kalanji declared Kasai Province independent
  • (1965) Joseph Mobutu led Congolese army in bloodless coup ousting Kasavubu and Tshombe, installed himself as president
  • (1970) Mobutu elected president in national elections
  • (1971) Mobutu renamed country Zaire; ordered all Congolese to drop European names in favor of African names; named himself Mobutu Sese Seko; Katanga became Shaba, Congo River became Zaire River; nationalized many foreign-owned firms, forced European investors out of the country
  • (1971 - 1997) Mobutu consolidated power, declared one-man rule, used nation's trade wealth for himself; country sank into poverty, defaulted on international loans
  • (1977) President Mobutu invited foreign investors back, had little success
  • (1977) Attack on Katanga by Angolan rebels suppressed with help of French, Belgian, Moroccan troops
  • (1977) President Mobutu reelected
  • (1982) Legislative elections were allowed, but not the formation of opposition parties
  • (1984) President Mobutu reelected for third term
  • (1989) Zaire defaulted on loans from Belgium, caused cancellation of development aid, deterioration of economy
  • (1990) President Mobutu declared Third Republic, ended ban on multiparty politics, appointed transitional government, retained substantial power
  • (1991) Unpaid soldiers rioted in Kinshasa, Mobutu agreed to coalition government with opposition leaders, retained control of security and ministries
  • (1993) Rival governments (pro and anti Mobutu) were created
  • (1994) Kengo Wa Dondo, advocate of austerity and free-market reforms, appointed prime minister
  • (1994) Over one million Hutu refugees fleeing Rwanda flooded into Zaire's eastern provinces
  • (1996 - 1997) While President Mobutu underwent medical treatment abroad, Tutsi rebels took control of most of eastern Zaire
  • (1997) Tutsi rebels with help from Rwanda, captured Kinshasa
  • (1997) Zaire renamed Democratic Republic of Congo; Laurent-Desire Kabila installed as president
  • (1997) Mobutu fled the country for Morocco where he died
  • (1998) President Kabila ordered Rwandan military personnel out of the country
  • (1998) Rebels from Rwanda and Uganda reorganized into militias to fight against Kabila, advanced on Kinshasa, took control of most of the eastern part of the country
  • (1998) Zimbabwe, Namibia, Angola sent troops to help fight rebels
  • (1999) Countries involved in fighting signed Lusaka peace accord; fighting continued, UN sent over 5,000 peacekeepers to monitor ceasefire
2000s
  • (2001) President Kabila assassinated by bodyguard, son Joseph succeeded him
  • (2001) Joseph Kabila reached agreement for troops from Rwanda and Uganda to pull back, UN troops withdrew
  • (2002) Mount Nyiragongo erupted, devastated most of city of Goma
  • (2002) Rwandan and Ugandan troops withdrew
  • (2003) Transitional government established, new constitution signed which provided for installation of provisional government
  • (2003) Violence in Bunia region caused UN to send in multinational peacekeeping force led by France
  • (2003) President Kabila named transitional government to lead until elections in 2005, two main rebel leaders sworn in as vice presidents
  • (2004) Gunmen attacked military bases in Kinasha in coup attempt
  • (2004) Rebels attempted coup in Bukavu
  • (2004) Banyamulenge Tutsis fled to Gatumba refugee camp in Burundi, militia raided the camp, killed 166 people (mostly women and children) and wounded 116
  • (2005) New constitution adopted by parliament, country divided into 25 provinces, Kinshasa named capital city, country's new motto: "Peace, Justice, Work"
  • (2005) New constitution backed by voters
  • (2005) International Court of Justice ruled that Uganda must compensate the DRC for rights abuses, plundering of resources
  • (2006) New constitution became effective, new national flag adopted
  • (2006) Violent riots in Kinshasa left five dead (two police officers, three civilians) before elections; mob attacked and killed soldier who fired shot into crowd at campaign rally,
  • (2006) Presidential vote had no clear winner; Joseph Kabila and Jean-Pierre Bemba prepared for run-off
  • (2006) Joseph Kabila declared winner in run-off presidential election
  • (2006) Over 50,000 people fled North Kivu Province during clashes between General Laurent Nkunda and UN-backed army
  • (2007) Government troops and Jean-Pierre Bemba's forces clashed in Kinshasa
  • (2007) DRC and Uganda agreed to try to settle border dispute
  • (2007) Major outbreak of Ebola virus confirmed
  • (2008) Conflicts between factions of Hutus, Tutsis, Rwandan militia, Ugandan forces, Congolese army deserters continued in eastern provinces along borders with Rwanda and Burundi
  • (2008) UN Security Council agreed to send more peacekeeping troops to DRC
  • (2009) DRC-Rwandan military operation held against Tutsi rebels led by Laurent Nkunda
  • (2009) Nkunda displaced by Bosco Ntaganda, arrested in Rwanda
  • (2009) Thousands fled when Hutu militia reemerged after DRC-Rwanda campaign ended
  • (2009) President Kabila approved law giving amnesty to armed groups as compromise to end fighting
  • (2009) International Criminal Court ordered former vice president, Jean-Pierre Bemba, to stand trial for war crimes in Central African Republic in 2002 and 2003
  • (2009) Two alleged FDLR leaders arrested in Germany on suspicion of war crimes
  • (2010) As many as 250 women and children raped in town of Luvungi by Rwandan Hutu rebel group, the FDLR
  • (2010) 50-years independence celebrations were held
  • (2010) World Bank and IMF approved $8 billion debt relief program
  • (2010) Over 90,000 people in North Kivu Province fled to escape Operation Rwenzori against ADF-NALU rebels
  • (2010) Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Zimbabwe and Angola implicated in UN report of possible crimes of genocide for killing of Hutus between 1993 and 2003
  • (2010) 700 Congolese women were raped by Angolan soldiers along the Congo-Angola border
  • (2010) Former vice-president Jean-Pierre Bemba went on trial at International Criminal Court for letting troops rape and kill in Central African Republic during 2002 and 2003
  • (2010) Paris Club of creditors forgave half of DRC's debt
  • (2010) Lord's Resistance Army fighters raided villages in northeastern DRC, killed and abducted children
  • (2011) Constitution was changed
  • (2011) Lt. Col. Kibibi Mutware was sentenced to 20 years in jail for mass rape case in eastern DRC
  • (2011) 19 killed in attempted coup against President Kabila
  • (2011) Ignace Murwanashyaka, a Rwandan Hutu rebel, went on trial in Germany for alleged crimes against humanity in DRC
  • (2011) Col. Nyiragire Kulimushi, accused of ordering mass rape of women in eastern DRC, surrendered to authorities
  • (2011) Nearly 1,000 inmates escaped during mass prison break-out, including Mai Mai militia leader, Gideon Kyungu Mutanga
  • (2011) In elections, President Kabila gained another term
  • (2012) Tutsi soldiers mutinied against the government, formed rebel group named March 23 Movement (M23)
  • (2012) Warlord Thomas Lubanga became first person to be convicted by International Criminal Court, sentenced to 14 years in jail for use of child soldiers in 2002 and 2003 in rebel army
  • (2012) UN Security Council announced intention to impose sanctions against leaders of the M23 rebel movement and violators of the DRC arms embargo
  • (2012) UN said Rwanda and Uganda were supplying rebel movement M23 with weapons and support
  • (2012) M23 took control of provincial capital of Goma
  • (2013) M23 rebel group declared ceasefire
  • (2013) Representatives from 11 African countries signed accord pledging help to end conflict in DRC
  • (2013) Bosco Ntaganda, warlord and M23 founder, surrendered to US Embassy in Rwanda, transferred to The Hague to face war crimes changes in International Criminal Court
  • (2013) Bush mine collapsed near Rubaye in North Kivu Province, killed at least 20

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