Joseph Kabila was born in Hewa Bora II, South Kivu, in the East of the Democratic
Republic of the Congo. He is the son of the former rebel leader
and DRC president Laurent Desire Kabila and Mahanya Sifa Kabila.
Kabila started elementary school in the public school system, in Fizi, South
Kivu, and finished in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. He then went on to attend
secondary school at a Tanzanian secondary school, in Mbeya.
In order to integrate his father's rebel forces, Joseph Kabila followed a
military curriculum in Tanzania, and from the neighbouring governments of Uganda
and Rwanda, after graduating from high-school. In 1996, he joined Laurent
Kabila's Rwandan backed rebel forces (the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the
Liberation of Congo, (AFDL)), as operations commander, in the campaign that is
dubbed the First Congo War. Following the AFDL's victory, and Laurent Kabila's
rise to the presidency, Joseph Kabila went on to get further training at the
National Defense University, in Beijing, China.
When he returned from China, Joseph Kabila was given the rank of Major-General, and
appointed Deputy-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Congolese Armed
Forces, in 1998. He was later, in 2000, appointed Army Chief of Staff, a
position he held until the elder President Kabila's death, in January 2001. As
chief of staff, he was one of the main military leaders in charge of Government
troops, in the Second Congo War.
When Kabila rose to the Presidency on 26 January 2001, at age 29, he was
considered young and inexperienced. Joseph Kabila has since attempted to end the
civil war and remove foreign troops from the country, with some success. The
2002 peace agreement signed at the Inter-Congolese Dialogue in Sun City, South
Africa, which nominally ended the Second Congo War, maintained Joseph Kabila as
President and head of state of the Congo. An interim administration was set up
under him, including the leaders of the country's two main rebel groups as
vice-presidents (two other vice-presidents are representatives of the civilian
opposition and government supporters respectively).
On March 28, 2004, a coup attempt or mutiny around the capital Kinshasa,
allegedly organized by supporters of the late president Mobutu Sese Seko,
failed. On June 11, 2004, coup plotters led by Major Eric Lenge allegedly
attempted to take power, declaring that the country's peace process was not
working, but were defeated by loyalist troops.
In December 2005, a referendum approved a new constitution, and presidential
elections are currently planned for July 30, 2006 (having been delayed from an
earlier date in June). The new constitution lowers the minimum age of
presidential candidates from 35 to 30; Kabila has recently turned 35, however,
prior to the election. In March 2006, he registered as a candidate.
Although Joseph Kabila registered as an independent, he is the "initiator" of the
People's Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD), which chose him as their
candidate to the election.
When confronted with a report of sex crimes being committed in the Congolese
military, Kabila squirmed in his chair and stated that the violent rapes were
unforgivable. He pointed out 300 soldiers have been convicted of sex crimes,
although he admitted that is not enough.
Joseph Kabila holds a BA (Bachelor of Arts) in International Studies and
Diplomacy from Washington International University, a non-traditional, distance
President Joseph Kabila, and his bride Ms. Olive Lembe at
their civil wedding ceremony on June 1, 2006, after many wedding rumors were
fueled by many in top positions in the country, the head of the Presidential
Household, Ambassador Theodore Mugalu officially announced the wedding of the
President to Ms. Olive Lembe di Sita. Mr. Kabila and his fiancee already have a
daughter, born in 2001, and named Sifa, after Kabila's mother. The wedding
ceremonies took place on June 17th, 2006.
As President Kabila is Protestant, and Ms. Olive Lembe di Sita is Catholic, the
wedding ceremonies were ecumenical, and were therefore officiated by both the
Catholic Archbishop of Kinshasa, Cardinal Frederic Etsou Bamungwabi, and Mgr
Pierre Marini Bodho - Bishop and President of the Church of Christ in Congo, the
umbrella church for most Protestant denominations in the Congo, known within the
country simply as "The Protestant Church".