Congo-Kinshasa; key historical events
Page last modified 20/3/2020
See also Africa
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.
2006, Joseph Kabila won partially-free elections, remained as leader for a second 5-year term. There was unrest as the result was disputed.
2003, Peace brokered in the Congo. The conflict from 1998-2003 took between 1 million and 5 million lives, with atrocities suich as rape very common.
16/1/2001, Laurent Kabila, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was assassinated. His son Joseph took over.
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.
16/5/1997, The Mobutu regime in Zaire collapsed.
1996, Major insurrection in the east started by the AFDL (Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of the Congo).
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.
27/10/1971 Congo changed its name to Zaire, under President Mobutu.
4/6/1971, Joseph Kabila, leader of the Congo since 2001, was born.
1970, Mobutu was elected President.
29/6/1969, 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.
30/6/1967, Moise Tshombe, former President of Katanga and former prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was kidnapped to Algeria.
25/11/1965, In the Congo Republic (Zaire), General Sese Sese Mobutu deposed President Kasavubu.
30/6/1964, UN troops ceased fighting in the Congo.
14/1/1963. The secession of Katanga from the Congo ended, see 11/7/1960. The province was renamed Shaba, and its capital town, formerly Elizabethville, was renamed Lubumbashi.
29/12/1962, UN troops occupied Elisabethville (now Lubumbashi).
28/12/1962, UN troops engaged in heavy fighting in Katanga Province, Congo Republic.
10/10/1962, Ceasefire in the Congo civil war.
13/9/1961. U.N. forces defeated Katangan rebels. See 11/7/1960.
17/1/1961, Ex-President Patrice Lumumba of Zaire (deposed 14/9/1960) was executed by rebel Katangese troops.
14/9/1960, Successful military coup in Zaire by Colonel Mobutu, against Lumumba.
28/7/1960, UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold arrived in the Congo in a bid to end the civil war there.
11/7/1960. Katanga rebels declared independence from the Congo under Tshombe. See 13/9/1961. Belgium sent troops to the Congo. See 14/1/1963.
9/7/1960, Belgium began an airlift of 25,711 of its nationals back from the Congo, as that country became independent.
7/7/1960, Belgium sent troops to the Congo.
30/6/1960. 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.
24/6/1960, Joseph Kasavubu was elected as the first President of the independent DR Congo.
2/11/1959. Rioting in the Belgian Congo left 70 dead.
6/1/1959, More rioting in the Belgian Congo; the root cause was poverty and unemployment. Belgium agreed to make reforms.
4/1/1959, Rioting in the Belgian Congo.
19/8/1908, 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 pi8blicise 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.
1/7/1885, The personal sovereignty of King Leopold I of Belgium over The Congo was proclaimed.
1/8/1884. 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.
3/5/1491, The ruler of the Kingdom of Kongo, Nkuwu Nzinga, was baptised by Portuguese missionaries, adopting the baptismal name of João I.
385, Copper mining and smelting at Kansanshi, Congo/Zambia region.