Leader profile: Joseph Kabila, DRC President

President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of the Congo meets with Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz at the Pentagon on Nov. 6, 2003. The two leaders are meeting to discuss defense issues of mutual interest. DoD photograph by Helene C. Stikkel. / U.S. Department of Defense

Joseph Kabila is the current president of the Democratic Republic of Congo. A former military commander and the son of another DRC president, Kabila was selected to replace his father in 2001 after his assassination. Throughout his political career, Kabila has demonstrated interest in resolving some of Congo’s most violent conflicts. In 2003, he initiated a peace agreement between warring factions, which contributed to ending much of the war in Congo. He partnered with South Africa and Tanzanian forces in 2013 to subdue the M23 rebellion movement embroiling eastern Congo. He has also sent various Congolese warlords to trial before the International Criminal Court. Yet during his presidency, Kabila did not take steps to establish many of the political institutions characteristic of a democracy, including transparent elections, an independent judiciary, or a free press. As president, Kabila has struggled with charges of corruption and election fraud;
immediately before and after the 2006 presidential election, excessive violence between Kabila’s troops and opposing forces necessitated a UN intervention and ceasefire. Furthermore, Kabila’s insistence on holding onto power despite the conclusion of his constitutional two-term limit poses a significant threat to Congo’s new democracy.

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By June Lee

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