CSMS Magazine Staff WritersAccording to international observers, Joseph Kabila, who inherits power from his father Laurent Kabila assassinated by a bodyguard in 2001, is expected to handily win historic elections in Congo. In 1997, a coalition of Rwandan and Ugandan troops helped propel Laurent Kabila to power as head of a rebel force that had risen up against dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, whose 32-year dictatorship ended that same year.Joseph Kabila, 35, is credited with taking the initiative to end Congo’s 1996-2002 war by uniting warring rebels to form a transitional government that paved the way for elections. Among the former fighters he brought into his transitional government was Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba, his main rival in the elections.Kabila and Bemba finished first and second during the July 30 first round. No one in the crowded field won the majority necessary to avoid the runoff, which was held Oct. 29.Results from 90 percent of votes published on the election commission Web site Monday give Kabila nearly 60 percent to Bemba’s 40 percent in the runoff. Kabila’s lead appeared insurmountable.No official announcement was expected for another two days while the commission completes its investigations into fraud complaints lodged by Bemba’s camp.Kabila is the product of exile. He was born in eastern Congo, but he grew up in exile in Tanzania where he learn to speak English and Swahili. However, since taking power after his father’s death, he has learned French, Congo’s lingua franca, and basic Lingala, spoken in western Congo. His father, Laurent Kabila, was a member Parti Congolais founded by Patrice Lumumba executed by Mobutu with the help of the CIA and Belgian intelligence service in the early 1960s. Laurent Kabila based a small rebel army in the eastern edge of Congo, near the border with Rwanda. It was there that Che Guevara joined him in order to shape up his internationalist movement in the early 60s. However, Laurent Kabila had divorced with his revolutionary ideas long before his death, and his son, Joseph Kabila is said to be pro-business and very well regarded by Washington as a man they can do business with. Joseph Kabila is said to be ready to negotiate Congo’s vast minerals deposit to international exploiters. The Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the largest Sub-Saharan African countries, about half the size of the United States east of the Mississippi river. So this piece of real estate, so rich in diamond, gold etc…, has a lot of western countries stood in line for another round of honeymoon, just like they did during the Mobutu’s 32-year grip in power.
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