Kabila, Laurent-Désiré

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Kabila, Laurent-Désiré

Laurent-Désiré Kabila (lôräN´-dāzērā´ käbē´lä), 1939–2001, Congolese political and rebel leader. He studied at universities in France and Tanzania. returning home in 1960. He supported Patrice Lumumba, established (1967) a Marxist party, and led a group of rebels that opposed Joseph Mobutu (later Mobutu Sese Seko). Spending most of the 1980s in Tanzania, Kabila resurfaced in Zaïre in the 1990s, again becoming the leader of a rebel army. In 1997, while Mobutu was in Europe, Kabila led his forces (which were supported by Uganda and Rwanda) into Kinshasa and 12 days later was sworn in as president; he soon changed the country's name back to Congo. In 1998 he established two national assemblies, but any movement toward democracy soon ended when he banned all political opposition and proceeded to establish a repressive regime. In mid-1998 a rebellion broke out among Tutsis in E Congo, supported by Kabila's former allies Uganda and Rwanda. A ceasefire was reached in 1999, but the rebellion grew and sporadic fighting continued. In 2001 Kabila was assassinated, apparently by one of his bodyguards, and his son, Joseph Kabila, succeeded him as president.

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