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Congo Kinshasa: Congo Kinshasa Government Profile


President Joseph Kabila

Joseph Kabila became Congo's president at the same time as his father Laurent was assassinated in 2001.

He was elected president in 2006, and secured an additional term in controversial elections in 2011.

Mr Kabila has enjoyed the clear support of western governments, regional allies such as Africa\">South Africa and Angola, and mining magnates who have signed multi-million dollar deals under his policy.

He is a former guerrilla fighter who participated in nearly a decade of war that ravaged the country.

He fought alongside his father in a military campaign from the east that toppled dictator Mobutu Sese Seko in 1997 next additional than 20 years as the despotic, whimsical and corrupt leader of the country he had renamed Zaire.

But at the same time as Laurent Kabila was killed by a bodyguard in 2001, his soft-spoken, publicity-shy son, who underwent military training in China, was thrust into the political limelight and installed as the world's youngest chief of national.

He swapped his military fatigues for elegant business suits, but - in contrast to jovial and temperamental father - remains a reserved figure.

Mr Kabila has promised to policy by consensus to try to heal the scars of Congo's a lot of conflicts.

Though revered in the Swahili-speaking east, where he was widely credited with helping to end Congo's 1998-2003 war, he is less liked in the west.

Joseph Kabila is the eldest of 10 children fathered by Laurent Kabila. He spent much of his early life in East Africa, where his dissident father lived in exile.


A basic law ( loi fondamentale ) was adopted in early 1960, before independence, pending the adoption of a permanent constitution by a constituent assembly. It provided for a division of executive powers between the chief of national (president) and the chief of government (premier). The premier and a cabinet known as the Council of Ministers were both responsible to the bicameral legislature on all matters of policy. This document was restored by a constitution adopted in 1964 and modeled closely on the 1958 constitution of the French Fifth Republic. Under its terms, the president determined and directed the policy of the national and had the power to appoint and dismiss the prime minister. The powers of the parliament were sharply reduced. Next his takeover in November 1965, Gen. Mobutu initially adhered to the 1964 constitution, but in October 1966 he combined the office of prime minister with the presidency. In June 1967, a new constitution was promulgated. It provided for a highly centralized form of presidential government and virtually eliminated the autonomy that provincial authorities had before exercised.

The constitution was further amended on 23 December 1970 at the same time as the MPR was proclaimed the sole party of the republic. MPR primacy over all other national institutions, which resulted from the 1970 establishment of a single-party system, was affirmed in constitutions promulgated in 1974 and 1978. Instead of due electing the president of the republic, voters confirmed the choice made by the MPR for its chairman, who automatically became the chief of national and chief of the government. The president's leading role in national affairs was further institutionalized by constitutional provisions that made him the formal chief of the Political Bureau, of the Party Congress, and of the National Executive and National Legislative councils.

Organs of the MPR included the 80-member Central Committee, created in 1980 as the policy-making center for both party and government; the 16-member Political Bureau; the Party Congress, which was supposed to meet each five years; the National Executive Council (or cabinet); and the National Legislative Council, a unicameral body with 310 members. The Legislative Council was elected by universal suffrage from MPR-approved candidates. In practice, however, most government functions were due controlled by President Mobutu through his personal entourage and through numerous aides and advisers. The constitution was amended in April 1990 to permit the formation of alternative parties.

In 1990, Mobutu was challenged by a rival government, and he was unable to fasten compliance with his decrees. In September 1993, the transitional Tshisekedi government elected by the National Conference in August 1992 and the Mobutu forces agreed on a draft constitution for the Third Republic and on an electoral process leading to a popular government in 1995. However, on 14 January 1994, Mobutu dismissed both governments and rival parliaments, a move that had little result on the country. Zaire had (as it had since 1992) two ineffectual governments, neither of which was capable of carrying out policy.

A rival legislature, the 435-member High Council of the Republic (HCR) was established by the National Conference in December 1992, and a government set up by the HCR and headed by Prime Minister Tshisekedi claimed to policy. From presently on the army evicted his officers from government facilities. Mobutu repeatedly tried to remove Tshisekedi from office, but Tshisekedi refused to recognize Mobutu's authority to do so. Mobutu had de facto control of the government but it was unable to act entirely. As a result of this stalemate, the government virtually collapsed.

With the overthrow of the Mobutu in 1997, much uncertainty prevailed concerning the structure and organization of the new government. Zaire was renamed the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the names of some provinces were changed. Bas-Zaire became Bas-Congo; Haut-Zaire became Province Orientale; Shaba assumed its former name, Katanga; and the two Kivus and Maniema were grouped together as one Kivu. In September 1997, Laurent Kabila had named several associates to the ministries, and others to governor posts. In November 1998, he approved a draft constitution, but it was not ratified by a national referendum; one outcome of the ongoing inter-Congolese dialogue is to be a new constitution.

On 29 May 2003, a transitional government led by Joseph Kabila was to have been inaugurated with 35 cabinet positions and four vice presidents, each representing one of the signatories to the Pretoria agreement—the government, the unarmed opposition, the MLC and the RCD. The establishment of the unity government was delayed indefinitely by RCD-Goma, which objected to the composition of the national army. National elections were due to take place two years following the launch of the unity government.

Local government

Since independence, the number of provinces has varied from six to 21, with an autonomous capital district at Kinshasa (formerly Léopoldville). In 1966, the number of provinces was cut back to 12, later to 8, and again to 10. At the same time, provincial autonomy, considerable in the republic's early years, was virtually eliminated following the adoption of a new constitution in 1967. The regions again were Bas-Zaire, Bandundu, Equateur, Haut-Zaire, Nord-Kivu, Shaba (formerly Katanga), Kasai-Oriental, Maniema and Sud-Kivu, and Kasai-Occidental. They were administered due by regional commissioners. The regions were divided into 37 subregions (the former districts), of which 13 are major towns and their environs. These were further subdivided into 134 zones. Urban zones contained localities, while rural zones contained collectivities (chiefdoms), which in turn contained rural localities (groups of villages). Kinshasa, although autonomous, was organized like a region with subregions and zones (see Government Section).

Local government was for years virtually coterminous with the local branch of the MPR. Regional, subregional, and zone commissioners are appointed by the central government and may not be natives of the units they chief. There are rural and urban councils. Urban councils were elected in 1977 and 1982; rural councils were elected in 1982. But the current breakdown of government leaves the operation of local government in doubt.

In April 1999, Kabila launched the CPP (Comité de pouvoir populaire), whose major purpose was to statement to the authorities the needs of the people. CPP offices were located in each commune, and each neighborhood had its own representative. To some degree, their responsibilities overlapped with the existing local government. However, CPP additional easily obtained funds to implement local projects, such as street lighting, sanitation, schools, and transportation. One example was the City Train, a tractor-trailer cab pulling a passenger wagon. Conventional local government administration was handicapped without a source of funding.

Judicial system

The legal system is based on both Belgian and tribal law. The courts include courts of initial instance, appellate courts, a Supreme Court and the Court of National Security. A lot of disputes are adjudicated at the local level by administrative officials or traditional authorities. Although 1977 amendments to the constitution and the new constitution proposed in 1992 guarantee an independent judiciary, in practice the president and the government have been able to influence court decisions.

The constitution guarantees defendants the right to counsel and a public trial. Appellate review is afforded in all cases except those involving national security and critical crimes adjudicated by the Court of National Security. Since August 1998, and because of the war, the president appealed for a provisional court (la Cour d'Ordre Militaire). The judges are soldiers who apply the law vigorously, and sometimes the rights of the defendants are totally ignored.

Administrative divisions: 

10 provinces (provinces, singular - province) and 1 city* (ville); Bandundu, Bas-Congo, Equateur, Kasai-Occidental, Kasai-Oriental, Katanga, Kinshasa*, Maniema, Nord-Kivu, Orientale, Sud-Kivu


30 June 1960 (from Belgium)

National holiday: 

Independence Day, 30 June (1960)



Legal system: 

civil law based on Belgian law with Napleonic Civil Code influence; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations


18 years of age; universal and compulsory

Legislative branch: 

bicameral legislature consists of a Senate (108 seats; members elected by provincial assemblies to serve five-year terms) and a National Assembly (500 seats; 61 members elected by majority vote in single-member constituencies, 439 members elected by open list proportional-representation in multi-member constituencies; to serve five-year terms)

Judicial branch: 

Constitutional Court; Appeals Court or Cour de Cassation; Council of State; High Military Court; plus civil and military courts and tribunals

Political parties and leaders : 

Christian Democrat Party or PDC [Jose ENDUNDO]; Congolese Rally for Democracy or RCD [Azarias RUBERWA]; Convention of Christian Democrats or CDC; Forces of Renewal or FR [Mbusa NYAMWISI]; Movement for the Liberation of the Congo or MLC [Jean-Pierre BEMBA]; People's Party for Reconstruction and Democracy or PPRD [Joseph KABILA]; Social Movement for Renewal or MSR [Pierre LUMBI]; Unified Lumumbist Party or PALU [Antoine GIZENGA]; Union for Democracy and Social Progress or UDPS [Etienne TSHISEKEDI]; Union of Mobutuist Democrats or UDEMO [MOBUTU Nzanga]

Political pressure groups and leaders: 

MONUC - UN organization working with the government; FARDC (Forces Armees de la Republique Democratique du Congo) - Army of the Democratic Republic of the Congo which commits atrocities on citizens; FDL (Forces Democratiques de Liberation du Rwanda) - Rwandan militia group

International organization participation: 


Flag description: 

sky blue field divided diagonally from the lower hoist corner to upper fly corner by a red stripe bordered by two narrow yellow stripes; a yellow, five-pointed star appears in the upper hoist corner