Democratic Republic of Congo


Belgium's King Leopold II gains title to the Congo after Henry Stanley signs treaties with several African rulers purportedly giving the king sovereignty in their areas. In the subsequent years Leopold makes a huge fortune from the the rubber and ivory trades. European companies also begin exploiting the vast mineral wealth of the area. [6]


Belgian state annexes Congo amid protests over killings and atrocities carried out on a mass scale by Belgian King Leopold II's agents. Millions of Congolese are said to have been killed or worked to death during Leopold's control of the territory. [1]

Under Belgian rule the worst excesses (such as forced labor) of the Free State were gradually diminished, but the Congo was still regarded almost exclusively as a field for European investment, and little was done to give Africans a significant role in its government or economy. [6]


When demands for independence are mounting throughout Africa, Belgian Professor Antoin van Bilsen publishes a "30-Year Plan" for granting the Congo increased self-government. [1] [6]


Belgium begins to lose control over events in the Congo following serious nationalist riots in Leopoldville (now Kinshasa). [1]


June - Congo becomes independent with Patrice Lumumbai, the leader of the Mouvement National Congolais, as prime minister and Joseph Kasavubu, leader of the ABAKO party, as president. [1] [6]

On becoming Prime Minister Lumumba speaks out against past injustices inflicted by the wealthy whites and speaks of future economic and political liberation. [7]

Fearful of losing the place they hold, Belgian interests stir up ethnic and personal rivalries. [6] [7]

July - The Congolese army mutinies; Moise Tshombe declares Katanga independent; Belgian troops sent in ostensibly to protect Belgian citizens and mining interests. Amid complaints at the violence of the Belgian troops, the UN Security Council votes to send in troops to help establish order, but the troops are not allowed to intervene in internal affairs. [1] [6] [7]

Most of the Western forces are concentrated in the mineral rich Katanga region. The USA and UN refuse to help Lumumba quell the uprising. He receives some support form the USSR, but cannot regain control of the country. [7]

September - At the behest of President Eisenhower's administration, which has strong connections with the mineral exploitation, Kasavubu dismisses Lumumba as prime minister. [1] [7]

Still fearful of Lumumba's powerful oratory Eisenhower orders Lumumba's assassination. [7]

December - Lumumba arrested by the army under Jospeh Mobutu. [1] [7]


January - Lumumba is handed over to Tshombe, leader in the Katanga region. On the same day Tshombe has him killed and the CIA dipose of the body. [1] [3] [7]

Death of UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold in mysterious plane crash while trying to secure peace in Congo. Recent evidence has emerged of possible MI5 and CIA involvement. [2] [4] [5]

August - UN troops begin disarming Katangese soldiers. [1]

The UN and USA decide to back Cyrille Adoula as the prime minister of a united Congo. Congo's parliament is bribed to back him as well. [7]

December - Fighting between UN and Katangese forces breaks out. [6]


January - UN forces, with US support drive out Adoula's opponent, Antoine Gizenga, and his followers. [7]

Tshombe strives to maintain independence. [6]

December - Fighting between UN and Katangese forces breaks out again. [6]


January - Tshombe is forced to give in and agrees to end Katanga's secession. [1] [6]


To aid the government against widespread rebellions, the USA provides arms, aircraft and 100 to 200 military personnel. The CIA also conducts a paramilitary campaign against the insurgents in the eastern part of the country. [7]

June - The last UN troops are withdrawn from the country. [6]

July - In desperation, President Kasavubu appoints Tshombe prime minister, but this move results in large-scale rebellions. With the help of U.S. arms, Belgian troops, and white mercenaries, the central government gradually regains control of the country. Many CIA operatives are involved and are ordered to carry out indiscriminate attacks upon civilians. [6] [7]

November - Between 2000 and 3000 white foreign workers are trapped in rebel contolled Stanleyville. A rebel leader offers to release them for certain concessions, principally the cessation of American bombing, but negotiations fail. The USA and Belgium launch a rescue mission. Over 500 Belgian paratroopers are dropped from American planes. Chaos follows. Over 2000 hostages are rescued. Over 100 are killed by fleeing rebels and several hundred more are dragged into the bush. The mission was coordinated with Tshombe's forces who took over the city, looting and killing as they did so. [7]

Tshombe announces a development plan in collaboration with the USA, Britain and West Germany. [7]


Kasavubu appoints Evariste Kimba prime minister. [6]

November - Mobutu again intervenes, dismissing Kasavubu and proclaiming himself president; Tshombe flees to Spain. [6]


An attempted coup by Kimba is defeated. [6]

Mobutu abolishes the office of prime minister. Leopoldville, Stanleyville, and Elisabethville were given African names (Kinshasa, Kisangani, and Lubumbashi, respectively), thus in effect beginning the campaign for "African authenticity" that became a major policy of Mobutu in the early 1970s. [6]


Joseph Mobutu renames the country Zaire and himself Mobutu Sese Seko; also Katanga becomes Shaba and the river Congo becomes the river Zaire. [1]

June - Mobutu has the entire student body of Lovanium University forcibly enlisted in the army, after some student demonstrations. 10 students are imprisoned for life. [7]


November - Mobutu nationalises many foreign-owned firms and forces European investors out of the country. [1] [8]


August - Revised version of 1967 constitution promulgated, making Mobutu's party, the Popular Movement of the Revolution (MPR), synonymous with the state. [8]


Mobutu involved in civil war in Angola on the side of the CIA backed forces. [7]

June - Mobutu accuses the USA of plotting a coup against him in coalition with Zairian citizens "thirsty for money". Several Zairian military officials are arrested, reportedly including most of the CIA's indigenous agents. The US ambassador, Deane R. Hinton, is later ordered to leave and Zaire's ambassador in Washington is recalled. [7]

October - Mobutu requests the CIA's help in annexing Cabinda, a province of Angola separated from the rest of Angola by a thin strip of Zairian territory. The CIA fly in a 1000 man arms package for the Ziarian troops. CIA officials also help coordinate the invasion, but it proves unsuccessful. [7]

November - Policy of retrocession announced, returning much expropriated property to foreign owners. [8]


April - the CIA give Mobutu nearly $1.4 million to give distribute to US backed Angolan troops, thousands of whom are refugees in Zaire. He pockets the money. The CIA had thought this might happen, but reasoned it would act as a bribe for him not to retaliate against the CIA. [7]


Mobutu invites foreign investors back, without much success. [1]

April - French, Belgian and Moroccan troops help repulse attack on Shaba (Katanga) by Angolan-based Zairan rebels. The USA provide $15 million worth of military supplies and the CIA supports efforts to recruit US and British mercenaries. Belgium and France provided arms, ammunition and 14 Mirage bombers. China also provides military equipment. [1] [7]

May - The rebels are finally forced to retreat. [7]

October - Legislative elections held. [8]

December - Mobutu reelected president, running unopposed. [8]


February - Constitution revised; military establishment purged following discovery of coup plot. [8]

May - The same insurgent group that attacked the previous year launches another invasion of Shaba from Zambia and is again defeated only with help of French and Belgians troops and US military aid. The US fly in the Belgian and French troops, followed later by Moroccan, Senegalese and Gabonese troops. [7] [8]

In an attempt to justify their involvement the US administration claims Cuba and the Soviet Union were involved in the rebel attack. This proves to be false and it turns out that Castro had warned the US government of the invasion, but they had ignored him. [7]

June - Pan-African peacekeeping force installed in Shaba and stays for over a year. [8]


It is estimated that officials were skimming off at least $240 million a year from the nationalized mining resource. [9]


September - Legislative elections held; multiple candidates allowed for first time; more than three-quarters of incumbents voted out; thirteen parliamentarians attempt to form second party and are arrested. [8]


July - Mobutu reelected without opposition. [8]

November - Rebel forces occupy Moba in Shaba Region for two days before town recaptured by Zairian forces. [8]


June - Zaire celebrates twenty-five years of independence; on eve of celebration, guerrillas briefly occupy Moba again. [8]


December - Ronald Reagan describes Mobutu as "a consistent voice of good sense and good will". [9]


The World Bank estimates that up to $400 million, a quarter of Zaire's export revenues, most of it earned from Gecamines, the nationalized mining concern, inexplicably vanished from the country's foreign-exchange accounts in this year. [9]


February - Student disturbances break out in Kinshasa and Lubumbashi and result in violent clashes with armed police. [8]

Zaire defaults on loans from Belgium, resulting in a cancellation of development programmes and increased deterioration of the economy. [1]


April - Mobutu agrees to end the ban on multiparty politics and appoints a transitional government, but retains substantial powers. [1]

May - Protesting students at University of Lubumbashi massacred by government forces; as a result, Belgium, European Community, Canada, and United States ultimately cut off all but humanitarian aid to Zaire. [8]

December - Legislation permitting political parties to register finally passed. [8]


April-May - Security forces intervene violently against demonstrators. [8]

August - National conference on political reform convened with ostensible mandate to draft new constitution as prelude to new elections; conference suspended, August 15. [8]

September - Unpaid paratroopers mutiny in Kinshasa and go on rampage, looting and violence spread; France and Belgium send troops to restore order and evacuate foreign nationals. [8]

October - Opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi named prime minister in early October but fired by Mobutu a week later, spurring violent demonstrations; France joins other Western nations in cutting off economic aid to Zaire; Mobutu appoints Mungul-Diaka to succeed Tshisekedi. [8]

The problem, like almost all problems in Zaire, boiled down to money. Tshisekedi, with the backing of Western governments, sought control over Zaire's Central Bank. This Mobutu could not abide. [9]

November - Mobutu names another opposition leader, Nguza Karl-i-Bond, prime minister. [8]

Gabriel Kyungu wa Kumwanza is appointed governor of Shaba. He immediately launches a campaign to drive the Kasai people from Shaba. The Kasai had, in previous generations, been brought into Shaba from the neighbouring province of Kasai to work in the mines. Now they are violently driven out. [9]

December - National conference reconvenes. [8]


National conference activities periodically suspended by Mobutu; economy continues to deteriorate; Western nations call for Mobutu to step down, but he clings to power. [8]

February - Peaceful demonstrations by Christian groups violently broken up by security forces; up to forty-five killed and 100 injured. [8]

April - National conference meets, declares itself to have sovereign powers not only to draw up a new constitution but also to legislate a multiparty system; Transitional Act passed establishing new, transitional government; these actions constitute a direct challenge to Mobutu, who does not accept conference's authority. [8]

August - Newly named Sovereign National Conference elects Tshisekedi (of Kasai origin) prime minister, precipitating violent confrontations in Shaba Region between supporters of Tshisekedi and Nguza; conflict between Tshisekedi and Mobutu over who runs government continues. [8]

Mobutu, officials in the Central bank, the military and others are reported to be running an illicit diamond export racket worth several hundred million dollars a year. [9]

Inflation is more than 6000%, unemployment is at 80%. [9]


January - Soldiers riot and loot following refusal by merchants to accept new Z$5 million notes with which military personnel were paid; in ensuing violence dozens of soldiers killed by elite army unit loyal to Mobutu; French ambassador killed while watching violence from his office window. [8]

March - Mobutu dismisses Tshisekedi and names Faustin Birindwa prime minister of so-called government of national salvation; Birindwa names cabinet in April; Zaire now has two rival, parallel governments. [8]

October - More rioting and looting occur when opposition parties promote boycott of new currency issue used to pay troops. [8]


Mobutu agrees to the appointment of Kengo Wa Dondo, an advocate of austerity and free-market reforms, as prime minister. [1]


Tutsi rebels capture much of eastern Zaire while Mobutu is abroad for medical treatment. [1]


May - Tutsi and other anti-Mobutu rebels, aided principally by Rwanda, capture the capital, Kinshasa; Zaire is renamed the Democratic Republic of Congo; Laurent-Desire Kabila installed as president. [1]


August - Rebels backed by Rwanda and Uganda rise up against Kabila and advance on Kinshasa. Zimbabwe, Namibia send troops to repel them. Angolan troops also side with Kabila. The rebels take control of much of the east of DR Congo. [1]


Rifts emerge between Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC) rebels supported by Uganda and Rally for Congolese Democracy (RCD) rebels backed by Rwanda. [1]

July - The six African countries involved in the war sign a ceasefire accord in Lusaka. The following month the MLC and RCD rebel groups sign the accord. [1]


UN Security Council authorises a 5,500-strong UN force to monitor the ceasefire but fighting continues between rebels and government forces, and between Rwandan and Ugandan forces. [1]


January - President Laurent Kabila is shot dead by a bodyguard. Joseph Kabila succeeds his father. [1]

February - Kabila meets Rwandan President Paul Kagame in Washington. Rwanda, Uganda and the rebels agree to a UN pull-out plan. Uganda, Rwanda begin pulling troops back from the frontline. [1]

May - US refugee agency says the war has killed 2.5 million people, directly or indirectly, since August 1998. Later, a UN panel says the warring parties are deliberately prolonging the conflict to plunder gold, diamonds, timber and coltan, used in the making of mobile phones. [1]


January - Eruption of Mount Nyiragongo devastates much of the city of Goma. [1]

April - Peace talks in South Africa: Kinshasa signs a power-sharing deal with Ugandan-backed rebels, under which the MLC leader would be premier. Rwandan-backed RCD rebels reject the deal. [1]

July - Presidents of DR Congo and Rwanda sign a peace deal under which Rwanda will withdraw troops from the east and DR Congo will disarm and arrest Rwandan Hutu gunmen blamed for the killing of the Tutsi minority in Rwanda's 1994 genocide. [1]

September - Presidents of DR Congo and Uganda sign peace accord under which Ugandan troops will leave DR Congo. [1]

September/October - Uganda, Rwanda say they have withdrawn most of their forces from the east but local militias take advantage of the vacuum left by the troop departure. UN-sponsored talks begin in South Africa, with the Kinshasa government and the two main rebel groups discussing power-sharing plans. [1]

December - Peace deal signed in South Africa between Kinshasa government and main rebel groups. Under the deal rebels and opposition members are to be given portfolios in an interim government. [1]


April - President Kabila signs a new constitution, under which an interim government will rule for two years, pending elections. The constitution was drawn up at talks in South Africa between DR Congo's warring factions. [1]

May - Last Ugandan troops leave eastern DR Congo as reports emerge of bloody clashes between rival militias in Bunia area. [1]

June - French soldiers arrive in Bunia, spearheading a UN-mandated rapid-reaction force. [1]

President Kabila names a transitional government to lead DR Congo until democratic elections take place in two years time. Leaders of the main former rebel groups are sworn in as vice-presidents in July. [1]

August - Interim parliament inaugurated. [1]

December - Former government soldiers and those of two main rebel groups form a united force. [1]


March - Gunmen attack military bases in Kinshasa in an apparent coup attempt. [1]

June - Rebel soldiers occupy eastern border town of Bukavu for a week. Government accuses Rwanda of supporting rebels. Protests in Kinshasa over UN's failure to prevent town's capture turn violent. [1]

Reported coup attempt by rebel guards is said to have been neutralised. [1]

December - Fighting in the east between the Congolese army and renegade soldiers from a former pro-Rwanda rebel group. Rwanda denies being behind the mutiny. [1]


March - UN peacekeepers say they have killed more then 50 militia members in an offensive, days after nine Bangladeshi soldiers serving with the UN are killed in the north-east. [1]

May - New constitution, with text agreed by former warring factions, is adopted by National Assembly. [1]