Today in History: DRC president Kabila assassinated, but who did it?


On the 16th of January 2001, the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Laurent Kabila, was assassinated in his Kinshasa palace.

In 1997, Kabila managed to overthrow Mobutu Sese Seke, Zaire’s former president, before renaming the country the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and ruling it until early 2001 when he was shot dead in his “Palais de Marbre” or “Marble Palace” in Kinshasa, the capital city of the DRC

While it appears that the assassin was one of his bodyguards, one can argue that varied stories are ever present as to who “really” killed him.

According to a 2002 article in the Economist, it was stated that the official story was in fact that a bodyguard shot him through the neck. However, to quote that same article, “little has been revealed about Mr. Kabila’s death.”

Varying stories have included a February 2001 article on the Guardian stating that a boy soldier shot him four times in his palace; a January 2001 article on the Telegraph reporting a quote by a Congolese official stating that the assassin was “probably” the Congolese deputy defence minister; and even a 2012 article on Jambo News reporting a claim by a former chief of staff under the Rwandan president, Paul Kagame, that Kagame himself instigated the assassination.

Much to the dismay of the international community, many individuals were given harsh sentences in a trial which, according to filmmaker and foreign journalist, Arnaud Zajtman, in an Aljazeera article from 2011, held no convincing evidence. Zajtman, in the same article, would go on to conclude that, after a year-long investigation of his, the assassin was one of his bodyguards.


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