Timeline: The Congo in Conflict


    1200s:   Rise of Congo Empire
    1482:   Portugese navigator Diogo Cao is first European to enter Congo


    16th — 17th Centuries: British, Dutch, and Portugese merchants engage in slave trade. Congolese factions fight civil war.
    1870s:   Belgian King Leopold II sets up private venture to colonize Congo.
    1885:   Leopold establishes Congo Free State. Leopold's mercenary force exploits the Congolese on rubber plantations. Ten million Congolese killed.
    1908:   Reports of exploitation force Leopold to relinquish Congo to Belgian government.


    1960:   Congo gains independence with nationalist leader Patrice Lumumba as Prime Minister and Joseph Kasavubu as President of the renamed Democratic Republic of Congo. Kasavubu dismisses Lumumba as Prime Minister and arrests him.
    1965:   Kasavubu ousted in coup led by Joseph Mobutu, who renames country Zaire
    1994:   Two million Hutu refugees flee Rwanda after genocide ends. Interahamwe rebel militias set up camps in Eastern Congo and attack Rwandan and Congolese Tutsis.


    1996-1997:   Mobutu flees the country. Rebel leader Laurent-Désiré Kabila, a follower of Lumumba, declares himself President and restores country's name to Democratic Republic of Congo.
    1998:   Kabila suspected of corruption and loses support. He turns against Rwandan and Ugandan allies, ordering them out of the country.


    1998:   Second Congo War begins, involving eight African nations and 25 armed groups.
    1999:   Six African countries and Rwandan and Ugandan rebels sign ceasefire accord. Other rebel forces refuse to sign. Former allies Ugana and Rwanda fight over the future of Kisangani region in northeast Congo.
    2000:   UN Security Council sends peacekeeping force to monitor ceasefire.
    2001:   UN panel states conflict prolonged due to the plundering of gold, diamonds, timber, and coltan.
    2002:   Presidents of Congo and Rwanda sign peace agreement.
    2003:   Second Congo War officially ends. Fighting continues in the eastern Congo, driven by trade of conflict minerals used in electronics worldwide.
    2006:   First free elections held in the Congo.
    2007:   Deaths attributable to the Congo conflict number 5.4 million people — including those who died from starvation, violence, or disease — in the deadliest conflict since World War II. Deaths are estimated to continue at 45,000 per month.
    2010:   Rape and murder of civilians continues by multiple armed groups, including government troops, rebels, and militias. 18,000 UN peacekeepers remain stationed, unable to prevent the bloodshed.

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