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The BBC's Mark Doyle in Abidjan
"Power politics in Congo is a brutal business"
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Henry Ntswana, DRC Charge D'Affaires in London
"Laurent Kabila died at 5pm yesterday"
 real 28k

Rebel leader, Ernest Wamba dia Wamba
"We don't condone assassination as a way of solving problems"
 real 28k

Click to watch
BBC correspondents gauge reaction to Laurent Kabila's death around Africa
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Thursday, 18 January, 2001, 20:32 GMT
Kabila death confirmed
Dominique Sakombi
The announcement ended days of speculation
The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo has finally confirmed the death of President Laurent Kabila.

The declaration, made in a national television broadcast, ends two days of confusion that have followed an apparent assassination attempt against the president.

Mr Kabila was reportedly shot in his presidential palace in Kinshasa on Tuesday, but the circumstances surrounding the shooting and where he died are still unclear.

Joseph Kabila
Joseph Kabila: Acting head of government
On Wednesday, his son, Joseph, was appointed caretaker leader.

However, the BBC West Africa correspondent says rebels, who control half of the country, are almost certain to oppose the appointment.

The UK Government said that the priority for DR Congo's leadership must be to restore stability in the country and to create the conditions that will allow UN peacekeepers to be deployed.

Zimbabwe's Defence Minister Moven Mahachi said Zimbabwe would continue lending military support to the new government.

'Open secret'

He said: "The choice of who leads them is their prerogative and if they continue to ask assistance from us, Zimbabwe will be more than willing to continue to assist them, more so at this critical hour."

Crisis unfolds
Tuesday 1600GMT: Gunfire reported around Kabila's home
1700: Kabila reportedly orders army to close routes into Kinshasa
1800: Attempted coup reported
1800: Officials in Rwanda and Uganda say Kabila is dead
1920: Kinshasa says Kabila still giving orders
2000 Curfew imposed
2130: Belgian officials say Kabila is dead
Wednesday 1200 Kinshasa says Kabila is alive but wounded
1230: Zimbabwe says Kabila dies on the way for medical treatment
The death was described earlier by one opposition leader as an "open secret" and a minute's silence was observed at the Franco-African summit in Yaounde, Cameroon, before the official announcement.

Togolese President Gnassingbe Eyadema asked everyone at the opening ceremony, including French President Jacques Chirac and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to be silent "in memory of our dear brother Laurent Kabila".

The president's body is expected to be brought back on Sunday from Zimbabwe and the funeral will be on Tuesday.

Key ally President Mugabe arrived back in Harare on Thursday morning after cutting short his stay at the summit.

Zimbabwean officials said the president had met top security and military officials and would be contacting his Namibian and Angolan counterparts to arrange urgent talks.


There is calm on the streets of Kinshasa, with security stepped up, but people still have little idea what is going on.

Laurent Kabila: Reportedly shot by own bodyguard
Information Minister Dominique Sakombi said DR Congo's airports, closed in the wake of Tuesday's shooting, were being re-opened, and a curfew was being eased.

The death comes at a time of mounting discontent in the army, which has recently suffered setbacks in the civil war.

Three generals were arrested last week.

Rebel groups backed by Uganda and Rwanda have been fighting the government in Kinshasa since mid-1998, leaving Mr Kabila in control of little more than half of the country.

Kabila's rise to power
1960s: Begins low-level rebellion in east
No success until 1996 when Rwanda backs Kabila against Mobutu
May 1997 Mobutu flees
In 1998 Uganda and Rwanda turn against Kabila
Clings to power with backing of Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe
Our correspondent says the rebels may decide to take advantage of any confusion and try marching on the capital.

But he said it was also possible that the departure of Mr Kabila from the political scene would serve as a catalyst to peace talks being encouraged by the United Nations.

Kinshasa and its enemies have failed to abide by a series of cease-fire agreements, deepening the country's profound poverty.

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See also:

17 Jan 01 | Africa
Cameroon talks overshadowed
17 Jan 01 | Africa
Belgium prepares Congo evacuation
18 Jan 01 | Business
Congo economy 'ravaged' by conflict
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