Democratic Republic of the Congo History

Democratic Republic of the Congo History


Before the Christian era began, smaller groups of pygmies lived in the area of ​​what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo as hunters and gatherers. Bantu kingdoms have probably existed since the 6th century, and records have been handed down from the Bantu Kingdom of the Congo in the southwest of the country since the 14th century. In addition, other kingdoms such as Kakongo, Loango and Bat¨¦k¨¦ emerged.

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Colonial period

From the end of the 15th century, Portuguese seafarers began to explore the country from the mouth of the Congo and set up their first commercial branches. The Portuguese established lively trade relationships with the local peoples, most of whom converted to Christianity: slaves were brought in from the hinterland, which the Portuguese shipped to South America. In the 16th century, the Kingdom of Congo was only able to maintain its position vis-¨¤-vis the surrounding kingdoms with the help of the Portuguese, and as a result lost its almost equal status.

The hinterland was not explored until the second half of the 19th century: David Livingstone was one of the first to travel inland, followed by the African explorer Sir Henry Morton Stanley from 1874, who followed several cities (Stanleyville, today Kisangani; L¨¦opoldville) the Belgian King Leopold II., Today the capital Kinshasa) and concluded various “land transfer agreements” with the local population. These areas were declared a protectorate under the personal protection of the Belgian King Leopold II. The latter awarded concessions to several trading companies to exploit the mineral resources there. Only at the Berlin “Congo Conference” in 1885 could the differences between Belgium and the competing European colonial powers France and Portugal be settled, the area of ​​today ‘ s Democratic Republic of the Congo was recognized as a state under the personal protection of the Belgian king. In the years that followed, the country and its people were exploited in such a ruthless manner (rubber, copper, ivory, gold, diamonds) that the Belgian king had to hand over the administration of the area to his parliament under international pressure. In 1908 the Belgian Congo became an official colony, which slightly improved the living conditions for the population, but meant no participation in the political decision-making process.Diamonds) that the Belgian king had to hand over the administration of the area to his parliament due to international pressure. In 1908 the Belgian Congo became an official colony, which slightly improved the living conditions for the population, but meant no participation in the political decision-making process (diamonds) that the Belgian king had to hand over the administration of the area to his parliament due to international pressure. In 1908 the Belgian Congo became an official colony, which slightly improved the living conditions for the population, but meant no participation in the political decision-making process.

Way to independence

From the 1940s, according to AbbreviationFinder, various resistance groups were formed, among them “Mouvement National Congolais” (MNC, founded by Patrice Lumumba) and “Alliance des Bakongo” (ABAKO, founded by Joseph Kasawubu, from 1960 “Alliance Congolaise”), which stood for one use independence of the country. Serious unrest and riots led to Belgium’s independence in June 1960 as the “Democratic Republic of the Congo” (often called “Congo-Kinshasa” to distinguish it from the neighboring country of Congo). After the first elections, Joseph Kasawubu became President of the Alliance Congolaise and Patrice Lumumba became Prime Minister. Immediately afterwards, the country sank into chaos:Ethnic conflicts and the secession of the southern province of Katanga (now Shaba) under its governor Moise Kapenda Tschomb¨¦ led to the nationwide civil war. It was not until 1963 that the intervention, which had already claimed more than half a million lives, ended with the intervention of UN troops.

Zaire under Mobutu

After the withdrawal of UN troops in 1964, the unrest flared up again. President Joseph Kasawubu’s government forces acted extremely brutally against the rebel movements (led by Laurent Kabila, among others), which had brought the eastern part of the country under their control. In November 1965, a coup brought Colonel Joseph Desire Mobutu (later Sese-Seko Mobutu) to power, who declared himself president, overruled the constitution, banned all political parties and declared a state of emergency. In 1967, the Mouvement Populaire de la R¨¦volution (MPR, Revolutionary Popular Movement) was founded by Mobutu and a new constitution was issued in which he was declared head of state and government and commander-in-chief of the armed forces.Mobutu’s policy of “Africanization” resulted, among other things, in the fact that all French city names were replaced by African ones and foreign companies had to give up a large part of their capital to the state. In 1971 the country was named “Zaire” after the African word for the Congo River. Extensive nationalizations were part of the economic reorganization.

From the mid-1970s, the country’s resistance to the autocratic Mobutu regime grew. In 1977 the “Congolese National Liberation Front” tried to overthrow the dictator, the unrest was quelled with the help of Belgian, Moroccan and French troops. In the 1980s, rebel associations led by Laurent D¨¦sir¨¦ Kabila tried again to overthrow Mobutu. Meanwhile, economic mismanagement and the consequences of corruption plunged the country into ever greater poverty. Reforms announced by Mobutu in 1990 failed to materialize, but a national assembly convened in 1991 that convened a “High Council of the Republic” (HCR) with a total of 453 members was to act as a transitional parliament, but was unable to prevail against the dictator Mobutu. in 1993,

In addition to the ongoing internal power struggles and serious unrest, the country was hit by numerous refugees from neighboring Rwanda and Burundi in the 1990s. In the refugee camps in East Zaire, where people vegetate under the worst conditions, the ethnic conflicts between members of the hostile tribes continued. Some of the camps served as bases for raids, especially to Rwanda, where more than half a million Tutsi and Hutu were killed by former members of the Rwandan army.

The Congo under Laurent D¨¦sir¨¦ Kabila

After the conflicts between government troops from Zaire and Rwandan troops or their allied Tutsi rebels reached a new climax, the “Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire” (AFDL) under Laurent D¨¦sir¨¦ Kabila conquered large parts of the country in late 1996, supported by Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, Angola and South Africa. Due to the chaotic conditions in the country, many international aid organizations had to stop their work, which further worsened the already desolate situation of the Hutu refugees in the camps in East Zaire.

When Mobutu finally fled abroad in mid-1997, his private wealth was estimated at over $ 5 billion, while much of Zaire’s population was living in dire poverty and the state budget was in danger of collapse. Foreign debt was over $ 14 billion.

In May 1997, rebel leader Kabila became the new president and renamed the country “Democratic Republic of the Congo” again. In addition to a new constitution, he promised democratic elections to be held in 1999. A little later, Kabila banned all political parties and expanded its own power. The promised readmission within a short time did not take place. Opposition movements and rebel organizations, which were allied with the neighboring countries Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, quickly formed again against the new dictator. Kabila used the same means of oppression against them as his predecessor Mobutu. He received support from the countries of Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia. Civil war-like conditions prevailed again.The peace negotiations in Lusaka, Zambia, held in July 1999, which saw an end to the civil war and the withdrawal of foreign troops from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, could not prevent further violent clashes between rebels and government units. Nevertheless, an armistice was signed on April 14, 2000.

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The Congo under Joseph Kabila

In January 2001 Laurent D¨¦sir¨¦ Kabila was murdered, his son Joseph Kabila, until then commander-in-chief of the armed forces, succeeded him. The first of 3,000 blue helmet soldiers to monitor compliance with the July 1999 peace treaty arrived in Congo in late March 2001. The renewed UN mission was made possible by President Joseph Kabila’s willingness to cooperate and the agreement reached on December 6, 2000 by the warring parties to withdraw their troops from the front. A peace treaty was signed between Congo and Rwanda in July 2002 to implement key points of the 1999 Lusaka peace agreement. A transitional constitution entered into force in 2003.

A new constitution that was adopted by the majority of the electorate came into force in February 2006. A federal administrative system could not be implemented, but the power of the president was restricted: the office of prime minister was established. The first free presidential election in the country’s history took place in July 2006; Joseph Kabila won the runoff in October. The elections were supported by an international donor community and the EU.

Despite the largest UN blue helmet deployment worldwide (Monuc: 17,000, later 20,000 blue helmets), a new civil war broke out in August 2007 in the east of the country, particularly in the regions of North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri (third Congo was). In the fighting between government troops and various rebel groups – as in the previous fighting – there were serious human rights violations, including systematic mass rapes, massacres and arbitrary shootings. In December 2008, the Congolese government and Rwanda signed an agreement to jointly fight the Hutu extremists of the FDLR. In March 2009, the government and CNDP (Tutsi) signed a peace agreement.

In November 2011, presidential elections were held in which Joseph Kabila was re-elected. In the run-up to these elections, there were disputes over a constitutional amendment which, according to the opposition, clearly favored Kabila’s re-election. The simple majority in the first ballot is sufficient. Hopes that after the end of the CNDP and the cooperation between the Congolese government and Rwanda in the fight against the FDLR, a pacification of the resource-rich eastern provinces can now be fulfilled. Dozens of armed groups have operated in eastern Congo in recent years. The M23 rebel association in particular was able to spread almost unhindered there.

Democratic Republic of The Congo President