Laurent-Désiré Kabilaka (November 27, 1939 – January 18, 2001) was President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from May 17, 1997, when he overthrew Mobutu Sese Seko until his assassination by his bodyguards on January 18, 2001. He was succeeded by his supposedly adopted son Joseph eight days later.
Kabila was born to a member of the Luba tribe in Baudoinville, Katanga, (Now Moba, Tanganyika Province) in the Belgian Congo. His father was a Luba and his mother was a Lunda. He studied political philosophy in France and attended the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.
When the Congo gained independence from Belgium on June 30, 1960 and the Congo Crisis began, Kabila was a "deputy commander" in the Jeunesses Balubakat, the youth wing of the Patrice Lumumba-aligned General Association of the Baluba People of Katanga (Balubakat), actively fighting the secessionist forces of Moise Tshombe. Within months, Lumumba was overthrown by Joseph Mobutu, and in 1962, Kabila was appointed to the provincial assembly for North Katanga and was chief of cabinet for Minister of Information Ferdinand Tumba. He established himself as a supporter of hard-line Lumumbist Prosper Mwamba Ilunga. When the Lumumbists formed the Conseil National de Libération, he was sent to eastern Congo to help organize a revolution, in particular in the Kivu and North Katanga provinces. In 1965, Kabila set up a cross-border rebel operation from Kigoma, Tanzania, across Lake Tanganyika.