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Laurent Kabila
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World Leader
    (November 27, 1939-January 18, 2001)
    Born in Moba, Zaire
    Formed the People's Revolutionary Party (1967)
    Created a secessionist state in South Kivu province, Zaire
    Led the First Congo War against President Mobutu Sese Seko (1996-97)
    President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (1997-2001)
    Assassinated by his bodyguard during a coup attempt
    Che Guevara briefly fought alongside him before concluding, 'All signs are that he is too addicted to drink and women.'
    In running South Kivu, he specialized in extortion and mineral smuggling.
    After overthrowing Mobutu, his regime was marked by the same authoritarianism, corruption, human rights abuses and personality cult.
    He blocked a UN investigation into the massacre of Rwandan refugees during his rise to power.
    Within a year of the governments of Uganda and Rwanda helping to put him in power, he had alienated them so badly that they turned on him, starting the Second Congo War.
    'The Economist,' describing the investigation into his assassination, commented 'Some 50 million people had a motive.'
    Guevara said that of all the people he met in the Congo, Kabila was the only one with the 'genuine qualities of a mass leader.'
    Much like Idi Amin, his jocular exterior made people underestimate him.
    The plot to assassinate him was code named 'Operation Mbongo,' the Swahili word for 'buffalo,' in reference to his corpulence. (It's one thing to kill the guy, but to mock his weight? That's adding insult to injury.)

Credit: C. Fishel

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