CONGO – ELECTION FILE – Congo’s president Joseph Kabila due to step down after two decades in power

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One month before Joseph Kabila is due to step down after nearly two decades as Congo’s president, he received a procession of foreign journalists at his riverside palace for a rare series of interviews.

It has been 18 years since the boyish, clean-shaven Kabila succeeded his father Laurent Kabila.

The country he inherited was in disarray, fragmented between government and rebel territories, and tens of thousands of people were dying each month from conflict, hunger and disease.

But his political instincts were surprisingly good. He courted Western powers like the United States and France, which his father’s anti-colonial rhetoric had alienated. His mandate ran out in 2016 when he refused to step down.

As the vote to replace him was repeatedly delayed — officially due to conflict and logistical challenges — opponents accused Kabila of seeking to engineer more time in power and tried to organise protests.

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