Thursday, December 11, 2003

DRC: profiles of Joe Kabila

There's no "news hook" for posting these stories at this time ... the profiles are just interesting.

This profile by the Boston Globe's Carter Dougherty is more positive than not. Here is a bit from it ...
Kabila spent most of his life in exile in Tanzania, where he learned English and Swahili, but neither French nor Lingala, the two most widely spoken languages in Kinshasa.

When his father led a rebel invasion in 1997 that ousted Congo's longtime dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko, the younger Kabila participated fully.

Initially known for a fast lifestyle of clubs and cars in Kinshasa, Joseph assumed power after his father was assassinated in 2001 and became the world's youngest president [at 30].
And the Economist has this profile, titled "Not as bad as dad". Not high praise exactly ... it encourages a "lets watch and see" attitude. At issue are his friends ...
Mr Kabila may have some dodgy friends, but he has some good advisers too. Last year the economy grew by 3%, despite half the country being in rebel hands. In delight, foreign donors pledged aid worth more than $2.5 billion. But diplomats in Kinshasa are beginning to sound queasy. The president's friends, they say, are becoming a problem.

Mr Kabila would rather discuss the election he promises to hold. His party is already holding rallies, even though other parties are forbidden to do so. Elections are hard to imagine, however. Fighting still rages in the east, and the country has virtually no infrastructure.
And here is an intriguing piece from USA Today columnist DeWayne Wickham.
The real test for this fledgling democracy ... may come from the children of Patrice Lumumba, Mobutu Sese Seko and Laurent Kabila, who generated enough bad blood in Congo to float a battleship.

.... [DRC stability is] not likely to happen if the sons of Mobutu and Lumumba are locked out of any meaningful role in the new political structure.

Three years ago, the elder Kabila jailed Francois Lumumba for violating the dictator's prohibition against political parties. Now Lumumba openly leads his National Congolese Movement, which lays claim to his popular father's legacy. But so far the younger Kabila's transitional government has kept Lumumba at bay. That's a prescription for unrest, not reconciliation.

Kabila also must find a place in this emerging democracy for Mobutu's two sons, Manda and Nzanga, whom he recently allowed to return from exile. Manda has formed a political party, and Nzanga says he may seek a seat in the parliament. Although their following is thought to consist largely of people who benefited from their father's ruthless rule, that may be enough to derail Congo's democracy movement.
Here is a bio of Patrice Lumumba, the first Prime Minister of the DRC.

And here is a bio of the elder Kabila, Laurent-Desire Kabila.