Chronography of Congo-Kinshasa / Zaire

Page last modified 21 August 2023


See also Africa

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For geographical changes map of Congo-Kinshasa click here

Demography of Congo-Kinshasa


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2017, Civil unrest grew in the Congo as Joseph Kabila continued to delay presidential elections. The Catholic Church in Congo demanded that he step down. There were allegtaions that this very unrest was an excuse for not holding elections.

2016, Joseph Kabila�s last term as leader ended; the Constitution barred him from more than three terms. He remained anyway as leader.

2011, Joseph Kabila again won (unsafe) elections, remained as leader for a third five-year term.

16 November 2006, Joseph Kabila won partially-free elections, remained as leader for a second 5-year term. There was unrest as the result was disputed.

23 February 2004, In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mai-Mai rebels were reported to have killed around 100 civilians and seven army officers in the SE province of Katanga.

30 July 2002, Peace settlement in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Rwandan troops ;left the DRC, and anti-Rwandan Hutu militias were disbanded, The conflict from 1998-2002 took between 1 million and 5 million lives, with atrocities suich as rape very common.

3 April 2003, 1,000 people, mostly members of the minority Hema tribe, were massacred in the Democratic republic of the Congo. Civil war resumed as forces loyal to Uganda sought to control the DRC�s huge mineral wealth. Ugandan forces were blamed for the massacre.

16 January 2001, Laurent Kabila, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was assassinated by a dissident army officer. Kabila�s son Joseph Kabila succeeded him as interim President.

1998, Kabila switched sides and started arming the Rwandan rebels, also being backed by Uganda. Rwanda invaded again; Angola and Zimbabwe intervened to support Kabila.

29 May 1997, Laurent Kabila took office as President of Zaire.


Mobutu administration

16 May 1997, The Mobutu regime in Zaire collapsed. Rebel forces under Laurent Kabila had captured the capital, Kinshasa. Mobutu fled the country, which was renamed as the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mobutu, a friend of the Western nations, had left Zaire with debts of US$ 13 billion, much spent on luxurious palaces, which were not cancelled by Western landers. This amounted to some US$ 260 per capita for Zaireans.

9 April 1997, In Zaire, Tutsi rebel forces under Laurent Kabila captiured the key town of Lubumbashi.

1996, Major insurrection in the east started by the AFDL (Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of the Congo).

5/1995, Ebola outbreak in Congo, lasted until 8/1995.

1994. The Rwandan genocide (see Appendix 16 Rwanda). Defeated Rwandan rebels fled into the Congo. Rewandan forces followed them, and due to the unpopularity of Mobutu, Rwanda was able to oust him and replace with Laurent Kabila.

1990, Mobutu announced a transition to multi-Party rule, after his security forces had killed pro-democracy democracy demonstrators.

1978, Angola made an unsuccessful attempt to invade Congo.

27 October 1971Congo changed its name to Zaire, under President Mobutu.

4 June 1971, Joseph Kabila, leader of the Congo since 2001, was born.

1970, Mobutu was elected President.


29 June 1969, Tshombe (Katanga) died of a heart attack, in an Algerian prison.

10/1968, Rebel leader Pierre Mulele was lured back to The Congo from exile under an offer of amnesty by Mobutu. However he was then arrested and executed after torture.

30 June 1967, Moise Tshombe, former President of Katanga and former prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was kidnapped to Algeria.

25 November 1965, In the Congo Republic (Zaire), General Sese Sese Mobutu deposed President Kasavubu.

13 October 1965, In the Congo (Zaire), President Tshombe was ousted by Kasavubu.

9 July 1964, Tshombe returned from exile and was made Congolese (Zaire) Prime Minister. He attempted to force a peace deal on various rebel groups, and drafted White mercenenaries into his army. This attracted criticism from other Communist-oriented African States. Rebels seized White hostages and held them at Stanleyville (now Kisangani) until they were rescued by Belgian paratroopers, flown in on US planes.

30 June 1964, UN troops ceased fighting in the Congo.


Attermpted Katangan secession 1960-63

14 January 1963. The secession of Katanga from the Congo ended, see 11 July 1960.The province was renamed Shaba, and its capital town, formerly Elizabethville, was renamed Lubumbashi.

29 December 1962, UN troops occupied Elisabethville (now Lubumbashi).

28 December 1962, UN troops engaged in heavy fighting in Katanga Province, Congo Republic.

10 October 1962, Ceasefire in the Congo civil war.

13 September 1961. U.N. forces defeated Katangan rebels. See 11 July 1960.

17 January 1961, Ex-President Patrice Lumumba of Zaire (deposed 14 September 1960) was executed by rebel Katangese troops.

14 September 1960, Successful military coup in Zaire by Colonel Mobutu, against Lumumba.

5 September 1960, Congolese Prime Minister Lumumba appealed for help to the USSR in his fight against Katanga and other secessionist movements. However this led to charges that he was a Communist, and his dismissal.

28 July 1960, UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold arrived in the Congo in a bid to end the civil war there.

11 July 1960. Katanga rebels declared independence from the Congo under Tshombe (1919-69).See 13 September 1961.Belgium sent troops to the Congo.See 14 January 1963.

9 July 1960, Belgium began an airlift of 25,711 of its nationals back from the Congo, as that country became independent.

7 July 1960, Belgium sent troops to the Congo.


Independence, but secessionist movement in Katanga

30 June 1960. The Belgian Congo became independent, under Prime Minister Lumumba. Civil war erupted within a week, the mineral-rich region of Katanga seceded, and UN peacekeeping troops arrived as the Belgians left. In August the mineral-rich province of Kasai also seceded. Without these two provinces, Congo would have been one of the poorest countries in Africa. Paramilitary troops from Rhodesia, Europe, and South Africa were ready to defend breakaway Katanga and their mining interests. The UN said it would restore law and order but was not concerned with the secession of Katanga. Lumumba now made the mistake of turning to the USSR for help. Russia sent aid and Kasai was retaken for a while. However other government members decided to rid themselves of the radical Lumumba, and the Chief of Staff, Mobutu, set up a new government; Lumumba was assassinated in January 1961. Tshombe, leader of Katanga, was supported by the Belgian�s decision to pay mining royalties to him, not the Congo government. However the UN leader, Dag Hammarskjold, was determined to crown his first major international peacekeeping exercise with success, and there was now a pro-Western government in the Congo. Hammarskjold�s plane crashed in uncertain circumstances on 17 September 1961 whilst negotiating with Tshombe. There was fighting between Katangan and UN forces in Elisabethville, capital of Katanga, and the UN attitude hardened. The UN ordered the forcible occupation of Katanga, and in January 1963 UN forces fully occupied the breakaway province.


24 June 1960, Joseph Kasavubu was elected as the first President of the independent DR Congo.

2 November 1959. Rioting in the Belgian Congo left 70 dead.

6 January 1959, More rioting in the Belgian Congo; the root cause was poverty and unemployment. Belgium agreed to make reforms.

4 January 1959, Rioting in the Belgian Congo.

27 November 1939, Laurent-D�sir� Kabila, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was born in Baudouinville, Belgian Congo (died 2001).

14 May 1910, Britain and Belgium agreed that the western shore of Lake Albert, Africa, was part of the Belgian Congo (now Democratic Republic of Congo).


Personal, and extremely harsh, colonial rule of King Leopold of Belgium

19 August 1908, King Leopold II of Belgium, under pressure from other European monarchs, handed over control of the Belgian Congo (Congo Free State), later known as Zaire, to the Belgian State. Leopold had ruled the region autocratically for nearly 30 years. The region had been explored by Henry Stanley, the expedition financed by a European consortium headed by King Leopold. This consortium sought to make financial gains from the Congo�s agricultural and mineral wealth, including ivory, rubber and palm oil. Trade agreements were made with the Congo�s tribal leaders and by 1884 Leopold claimed the colony as a personal possession. The rest of Europe consented to this claim. However by the 1890s Leopold saw fit to treat the Congo�s inhabitants as he liked; slavery was introduced, many brutalities were committed and under his rule the Congo population fell to 8 million, an estimated drop of 70%. The Brussels parliament agreed to pay Leopold 120 million Francs for the territory, and it became the Belgian Congo until independence in 1960.

1904, An exposure of the terrible conditions inside the Belgian Congo was published by former shipping clerk ED Morel. As a clerk he had noticed inconsistencies in the trading figures between the shipping company he worked for and the Congolese Government, and deduced that forced labour must be in extensive use. Morel set up his own newspaper, the West African Mail in 1903, to publicise more widely the Congolese slavery issue. This led to an onvestigation by the diplomat Roger Casement (later executed for treason over Irish home rule), and to the eventual end of King Leopold�s personal rule in 1908. Morel himself was nominated for the Nobel Peace prize in 1924.

19 September 1903, Belgian King Leopold denied any ill treatment of indigen9ous peoples in the Belgian Congo. This was in response to a note sent by Britain to Belgium on 19 August 1903 protesting about conditions there (see also 20 May 1903)

20 May 1903, In Britain a debate in the Hoiuse of Commons began over treatment of indigenous people in the Belgian Congo. Britain became involved in this after a report by the British Consul, Roger Casement, and because Britian wanted to stand for �the civilised treatment of colonial peoples�

22 November 1892, In the Belgian Congo, a revolt of slave owners that began in 5/1892 was suppressed this day by Belgian troops under Baron Francois Dhanis.

1 July 1885, The personal sovereignty of King Leopold I of Belgium over The Congo was proclaimed.

1 August 1884. King Leopold of Belgium formally proclaimed the Congo Free State today as a Belgian colony, following the concessions made by other European powers to him at Berlin in February 1884.


29 October 1665, Battle of Mbwila; the Portuguese defeated and killed King Antonio I of the Kongo Kingdom.

3 May 1491, The ruler of the Kingdom of Kongo, Nkuwu Nzinga, was baptised by Portuguese missionaries, adopting the baptismal name of Joao I.

385, Copper mining and smelting at Kansanshi, Congo/Zambia region.


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