DRC: the Joseph Kabila years

2018-12-17 13:07
Joseph Kabila (AFP)

Joseph Kabila (AFP)

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Joseph Kabila came to power in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2001, ruling during a period of bloody insurgencies and deadly protests against his extended mandate.

Here is a timeline.

Kabila father to son 

In January 2001, 29-year-old Kabila takes over as leader of this vast central African country just days after his father Laurent-Desire is assassinated by a bodyguard.

He becomes president as the country is being torn apart by a war which has been raging since August 1998, pitting government forces - backed by Angola, Chad, Namibia and Zimbabwe - against rebel groups supported by Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda.

The conflict ends after a power-sharing deal is signed in South Africa in December 2002.

Free but violence-hit vote 

In 2006, Kabila wins the first free presidential election for 41 years, defeating ex-warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba in a violence-tainted poll.

A constitutional change the same year limits a president to two five-year terms.

In March 2007, heavy clashes erupt in Kinshasa between army troops and soldiers loyal to Bemba, leaving 300 dead. With his men are defeated, Bemba leaves the country but is arrested near Brussels a year later on charges of war crimes.

In a report examining the two years since Kabila's election, Human Rights Watch accuses Kinshasa of killing an estimated 500 opposition supporters and arresting 1 000 more, denouncing the regime for its "brutal repression".

In November 2011, Kabila is re-elected in a vote marked by chaotic organisation, violence and alleged irregularities. The opposition rejects the results.

 Uprisings and bloodshed 

In 2012, clashes erupt between soldiers and rebels from the M23 movement in the eastern mineral-rich Kivu region, with the uprising eventually stamped out in November 2013 in the face of a crushing UN-backed offensive.

A month later, armed youths loyal to a televangelist demanding Kabila's resignation launch coordinated attacks in the capital and other cities. The violence prompts a government crackdown that leaves more than 300 people dead, rights groups say.

In 2014, there is a new uprising in North Kivu by suspected Ugandan Muslim rebels with the fighting claiming more than 200 civilians lives around the town of Beni in October and November.

 Elusive election 

In December 2014, Kabila names a government that includes several opposition members, despite promising to appoint a cabinet of national unity.

A month later, demonstrations break out in Kinshasa over a bill that would delay the 2016 elections and enable Kabila to remain in office beyond the end of his second term. Around 50 people are killed.

More demonstrations follow in September in which several dozen people are killed.

The same month, violence breaks out in the diamond-rich central Kasai region after security forces kill a local chieftain. The conflict spirals, leaving more than 3 000 people dead in eight months, according to a Catholic church report.

December 20, 2016 is meant to be Kabila's last day but with no vote planned nor sign of him stepping down, protesters take to the streets prompting a crackdown that leaves at least 40 dead, the UN says.

 Polling day finally fixed 

On New Year's Eve, opposition parties and the government reach a deal that the delayed elections will be held at the end of 2017 and that Kabila can stay in power until then.

But the vote is postponed again, purportedly because of organisational problems. In November 2017 the Electoral Commission announces a new date of December 23, 2018.

In June 2018, the International Criminal Court acquits Bemba of war crimes and he returns home announcing he will run for president.

Two months later, Kabila names former interior minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary as his successor, ending speculation about his own candidacy.

When the Electoral Commission publishes its list of 21 approved candidates in September, it excludes Bemba and exiled regional baron Moise Katumbi, both of them opposition heavyweights.

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Read more on:    joseph ­kabila  |  angola  |  drc  |  zimbabwe  |  uganda  |  rwanda  |  burundi  |  chad  |  namibia  |  central africa
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