- DRC President Kabila shows no sign of honoring a 2016 deal with the opposition
- Lacking strong leadership, the opposition may be too divided to topple Mr. Kabila
- Violence is spreading, and armed groups are expanding in the DRC’s mineral-rich East
Joseph Kabila’s rise to power followed a common script in African politics: he is the son and successor of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s first president, Laurent Kabila (1997-2001), the man who led the rebellion against Mobutu Sese Seko’s (1965-1997) dictatorial regime. Now in his 17th year in office, the 46-year-old president has joined the list of Africa’s long-serving leaders.
As a head of state, Mr. Kabila’s record is mixed. He was responsible for the relatively successful 2002 peace deal that ended the Second Congo War and it was under his tenure that the DRC held its first multiparty elections in 2006, the same year a new constitution was approved. These are considerable achievements, especially if we consider that from the pre-colonial kingdoms to Belgian King Leopold’s Congo Free State or Mobutu’s Zaire, the country’s default mode has been despotism and/or civil war.