Assassination of Laurent Kabila

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Thu Jan 18 08:32:46 MST 2001

January 17, 2001

The Assassination Of Laurent Kabila

By Horace G. Campbell <hgcampbe at>

President Laurent Kabila was shot and killed in Kinshasa the
capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo on Tuesday
January 16. His shooting stemmed from the acrimonious
situation within the military leadership of the army after
the stinging defeat of the military forces at Pweto in
Katanga Province in the past three months. Thousands of
soldiers had run away from Pweto to Zambia, and the soldiers
reported that they had been fighting for years without pay.
The Zimbabwean government evacuated their own soldiers after
the routing at Pweto. The fighting between the Rwandan
supported elements of the Congolese Rally for Democracy
(RCD-Goma) and the Kabila military had exposed the
weaknesses of the Lusaka Peace Process.

The Lusaka Peace Process Accord was signed in Lusaka Zambia
on July 11, 1999. This Accord called for a cease-fire, the
release of prisoners, the deployment of a Joint Military
Commission, the arrest of those who committed genocide
in Rwanda, the disarming of the armed militias, and the
convening of a National Dialogue. When the Peace Accord
was signed, the Kabila Government sought to use the
period to re-arm and to extend the war. There has been an
intensification of the plunder of the country by all of the
military forces in order to continue the war. Zimbabwe had
pressured Kabila to sign the Accord because its forces had
been surrounded at Ikela. After the signing of the Accord
Zimbabwe and Namibia fought their way out of Ikela despite
the Peace Accord. War was more profitable than peace.

The armies of both Uganda and Rwanda, which had intervened
in the DRC to support elements of the Congolese society,
were both involved in the looting and there was the unseemly
occurrence of fighting between the Ugandan army and Rwandan
army in the DRC. This was the high point of the senseless
war that had engulfed the country and held fifty five
million Congolese people hostage to militarists.

Wamba dia Wamba, one of the leaders of the rebellion,
had rejected the military means and on Monday, January 15,
2001, one day before the assassination, had rejected another
effort to strengthen the militarist forces. It was the plan
of the Ugandan political leadership to liquidate Wamba and
the civilian political leadership in order to strengthen
the military cooperation between Uganda and Rwanda for the
military overthrow of the Kabila Government. Jean Pierre
Bemba of the MLC had been nominated as the new military
strongman for the militarists. The merger of the RCD
Kisangani (Wamba's formation) and the MLC was to lead to
one new military opposition. Wamba argued that the merger
made sense politically if it were a step to support the
Lusaka Peace Process and the National Dialogue.

Government of National Unity

In placing emphasis on a political alliance rather than
a military alliance, Wamba was calling for a process of
political renewal that involved all Congolese armed and
unarmed. It was a call for unity among all of the Congolese
people to liberate the country from the forms of governance
that had been set up by Mobutu and institutionalized by
Laurent Kabila. Now is the best time for the end of the war,
the deployment of UN peacekeepers and for the formation of a
government of National Unity. This must be a government of
all Congolese who are committed to the National Dialogue
and for the transfer of power to the Congolese people.
This process must be anchored in the positive gains of the
Congolese people since the Sovereign National Conference
of 1992, which had laid down the basic principles for the
transition beyond Mobutism. This was the high point of the
organization of the ordinary Congolese. Neither the British,
the French, the US, nor the Belgians wanted to hear anything
of the Sovereign National Conference, because this body
called for the release of all information relating to the
assassination of Patrice Lumumba. Today, January 17, is
exactly 40 years since Patrice Lumumba was assassinated
in the Congo. It now a matter of public record that Dwight
Eisenhower, the then President of the United States, had
given direct orders for the elimination of Lumumba.

The Road to Peace

Laurent Kabila has been an obstacle to the peace process
in the DRC. His government opposed the Lusaka Peace process,
opposed the calling of the National Dialogue and opposed the
peace process in Burundi. There were some in the United
States and elsewhere who argued that Kabila was the heir
to the anti-imperialist traditions of Lumumba and that
he should be supported.

This position was maintained in the face of the overwhelming
evidence of his support for the forces that had committed
genocide in Rwanda. In August 1998, when Kabila called on
the citizens of the DRC to go out and kill fellow citizens,
he became an illegitimate leader regardless of his previous
record. It was on the basis of his previous record as a
freedom fighter, who had opposed Mobutu for 33 years,
that many anti-imperialist elements supported Kabila.
The governments of Zimbabwe and Angola both supported the
government of Kabila. These governments were complicit in
the plunder of the resources of the Congo. The death of
Kabila should be the opportunity to end the war, to respect
the Lusaka Accords and for the withdrawal of all foreign
forces from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Congo
borders nine countries, and all of the militarists in the
region of central Africa benefited from Mobutism and the
continuation of repression by Kabila.

The Burundi Peace process, which is being chaired by Nelson
Mandela, was negatively affected by the fact that Kabila
provided refuge for the extremists whom opposed peace in
Burundi. The end to fighting in Rwanda was held up by the
fact that Kabila did not hand over those who committed
genocide to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
In the cases of Uganda and Rwanda, the militarists increased
their power to the point where the peoples were subsidizing
warfare. The Zimbabwean case represented the best example
of how militarism can strengthen executive lawlessness.
President Mugabe of Zimbabwe assisted Kabila in halting
the Peace process.

The history of the failures of the United Nations in
the Congo for the past forty years can be remedied by the
swift deployment of peacekeepers to support a government of
National Unity. Those who support peace in all parts of the
globe must seize this opportunity to promote peace over war
in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The person named
by the organization of African Unity to be the neutral
facilitator for the national Dialogue, Sir Ketumile Masire,
must be dispatched to Kinshasa to initiate the National
Dialogue to embark on the new road to peace, truth and
reconciliation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


Horace G. Campbell is the International Secretary of the
Black Radical Congress. The views and opinions expressed
in this article are his own.

Copyright (c) 2001 Horace Campbell. All Rights Reserved.

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