This Day in Black History: May 17, 1997

This Day in Black History: May 17, 1997

Laurent Kabila became president of the central African nation of Zaire on May 17, 1997, after overthrowing Dictator Mobutu Sese Seko in a military coup. He restored the country’s name to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Published May 17, 2012

Laurent Kabila became president of the Central African nation of Zaire on May 17, 1997, after overthrowing Dictator Mobutu Sese Seko in a military coup. After taking the helm of the war-torn nation, Kabila swiftly restored the country’s former name to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


Kabila was born in the Belgian-controlled Congo on Nov. 27, 1939, and went on to study various political philosophies and military strategies in countries such as France, Serbia and China. Despite promising a new era of democracy following Mobutu’s rule, Kabila was heavily criticized for maintaining a totalitarian rule of law and perpetrating human rights abuses. He was assassinated by one of his guards on Jan. 18, 2001, at the age of 61.


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(Photo: REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra)

Written by Naeesa Aziz

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