The Guardian January 23, 2001


DR Congo Freedom fighter assassinated

by Andrew Jackson

President Laurent Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo was 
assassinated Tuesday last week, dying on a plane to Zimbabwe where he was 
being rushed for medical treatment. Diamonds, gold and oil appear to be 
behind the death of this great African freedom fighter.

DR Congo, the country formerly known as Zaire, has long been considered a 
"prize" worth fighting over by European powers and its neighbours  
Germany's desires on the territory were one of the reasons it invaded 
Belgium during the First World War.

Granted independence from Belgium in 1960, the country has lived mostly 
under the rule of Mobutu Sese Seko, who took power in a coup in 1965.

Mobutu presided over 35 years of murder and plunder in Zaire, remaining in 
power with financial and military help from the Belgian, French and 
American Governments.

Acting as the imperialists' deputy in Africa, Mobutu sent his armies to 
overthrow socialist governments, his most notorious and futile intervention 
was in Angola where Zairean troops fought alongside those from the 
apartheid South African regime.

Laurent Kabila fought with rebel forces against Mobutu from the 1960s, at 
one time alongside Che Guevera.

His view of their superficial independence was put: "African independences 
offer to the world the tragic spectacle of a continent betrayed, plundered, 
humiliated and bloodied with the complicity of its own sons."

Kabila and his forces finally liberated Zaire in 1997, sweeping through the 
nation in a revolution backed by the people and deserting government 
soldiers, tired of Mobutu's exploitation.

Peace was short lived however, as Kabila found outside forces unwilling to 
give up the plunder they had enjoyed under Mobutu.

Kabila was successfully restructuring the economy, shunning the dictates of 
the IMF and World Bank, and tearing up contracts made by the previous 
regime with foreign exploiters.

Since 1998, an international invasion force has been attempting to oust 
Kabila, in an horrific war largely and conveniently ignored by the Western 
media, but which has cost an estimated 2.3 million Congolese lives.

Other anti-colonialist governments across Africa, including Namibia, 
Zimbabwe and Angola, came to Kabila's aid.

Numerous and conflicting theories have emerged as to who was behind the 
assassin, an 18-year-old who has been Mr Kabila's bodyguard since 1996.

Mr Kabila's son Joseph has been named interim President as investigations 
continue.

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