John Prendergast (activist)
John Prendergast is an American human rights and anti-corruption activist and former Director for African Affairs at the National Security Council. He is the Founding Director of the Enough Project, a nonprofit human rights organization, co-founder with George Clooney of The Sentry. In the latter half of the 1980s and the first half of the 1990s, Prendergast worked for a variety of organizations in the U. S. and Africa, focusing on peace and human rights. At the end of 1996, he joined the National Security Council as Director for African Affairs and thereafter served as a special adviser to Susan Rice at the United States Department of State; as a special adviser, Prendergast was a member of the team behind the successful two-and-a-half-year U. S. effort to broker an end to the Eritrean–Ethiopian War. Prendergast left government in 2001 to become Special Adviser to the President of the International Crisis Group on Africa issues, in 2007, with Gayle Smith, he co-founded the Enough Project, housed at the Center for American Progress.
He is co-founder with George Clooney of The Sentry, an investigative initiative created to uncover the financial networks behind conflicts in Africa. Together they co-founded the Satellite Sentinel Project, which aimed to prevent conflict and human rights abuses through satellite imagery. Prendergast is the author or co-author of eleven books, his latest book is Congo Stories: Battling Five Centuries of Exploitation and Greed, co-authored with Congolese activist Fidel Bafilemba and featuring photographs by Ryan Gosling He is working on a project concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo with Gosling and New Yorker writer Kelefa Sanneh. Prendergast has appeared in five episodes of 60 Minutes and traveled to Africa with Dateline NBC, ABC’s Nightline, The PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer and CNN’s Inside Africa, Newsweek/The Daily Beast, The New York Times Magazine. Prendergast appeared the documentaries Sand and Sorrow, Darfur Now, 3 Points, War Child, he co-produced Journey Into Sunset, is Executive Producer of Staging Hope: Acts of Peace in Northern Uganda, both about Northern Uganda.
Jane Bussmann was inspired by his work and meetings with him to write her 2012 book The Worst Date Ever: or How it Took a Comedy Writer to Expose Joseph Kony and Africa's Secret War, a comic/tragic story of her attempt as a novice foreign correspondent to expose the truth about the war in Uganda. Prendergast has been a visiting professor at many universities and colleges, including Yale Law School, Stanford University, Columbia University, he has been awarded seven honorary doctorates, serves as the Anne Evans Estabrook Human Rights Senior Fellow at Kean University. Prendergast's activism has been criticized by Mahmood Mamdani as simplistic, counter-productive, detrimental to the reality on the ground regarding Darfur and Northern Uganda. Peace and People of the Horn of Africa, by John Prendergast, Bread for the World. Institute on Hunger & Development, Center of Concern, published by Center of Concern, 1992 ISBN 978-0-9628058-2-0 Civilian Devastation: Abuses by All Parties in the War in Southern Sudan, by Jemera Rone, John Prendergast, Karen Sorensen, Human Rights Watch/Africa, Human Rights Watch, published by Human Rights Watch, 1994 ISBN 978-1-56432-129-9 Without Troops & Tanks: The Emergency Relief Desk and the Cross Border Operation into Eritrea and Tigray, by Mark R. Duffield, John Prendergast, published by The Red Sea Press, 1994 ISBN 978-1-56902-003-6Crisis Response: Humanitarian Band-aids in Sudan and Somalia, principal author, John Prendergast, Inc NetLibrary, NetLibrary, Inc. published by Center of Concern, 1997 ISBN 978-0-585-38030-8 Frontline Diplomacy: Humanitarian Aid and Conflict in Africa, by John Prendergast, Center of Concern, published by L. Rienner, 1996 ISBN 978-1-55587-696-8 God, Oil & Country: Changing the Logic of War in Sudan, principal author, John Prendergast, published by International Crisis Group, January 28, 2002 ASIN: B000FPCBP Blood and Soil: Land and Conflict Prevention in Zimbabwe and South Africa, by John Prendergast, published by International Crisis Group, 2004 ISBN 978-0-9760853-0-0 Crafting Peace: Strategies to Deal with Warlords in Collapsing States, by Sasha Lezhnev, John Prendergast, published by Lexington Books, 2006 ISBN 978-0-7391-1765-1 Not On Our Watch: The Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond, by Don Cheadle, John Prendergast, published by Hyperion, 2007 ISBN 978-1-4013-0335-8 The Enough Moment: Fighting to End Africa's Worst Human Rights Crimes by John Prendergast with Don Cheadle, published by Random House, 2010 ISBN 978-0-307-46482-8 Unlikely Brothers by John Prendergast and Michael Mattocks, published by Random House, May 17, 2011 ISBN 978-0-307-46484-2 Congo Stories: Battling Five Centuries of Exploitation and Greed by John Prendergast and Fidel Bafilemba, published by Grand Central Publishing, December 4, 2018 ISBN 978-1-4555-8464-2 Enough Project Appearances on C-SPAN Works by or about John Prendergast in libraries
Center for American Progress
The Center for American Progress is a public policy research and advocacy organization which presents a liberal viewpoint on economic and social issues. It has its headquarters in Washington, D. C; the president and chief executive officer of CAP is Neera Tanden, who worked for the Obama and Clinton administrations and for Hillary Clinton's campaigns. The first president and CEO was John Podesta, who has served as White House Chief of Staff to U. S. President Bill Clinton and as the chairman of the 2016 presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton. Podesta remained with the organization as chairman of the board until he joined the Obama White House staff in December 2013. Tom Daschle is the current chairman; the Center for American Progress has a youth-engagement organization, Generation Progress, a sister advocacy organization, the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Citing Podesta's influence in the formation of the Obama Administration, a November 2008 article in Time stated that "not since the Heritage Foundation helped guide Ronald Reagan's transition in 1981 has a single outside group held so much sway".
The Center for American Progress was created in 2003 as a left-leaning alternative to think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute. Since its inception, the center has assembled a group of high-profile senior fellows, including Lawrence Korb, Assistant Secretary of Defense under President Ronald Reagan. S. Senator from North Carolina John Edwards. Sarah Rosen Wartell, a co-founder and executive vice-president of the center, has been named President of the Urban InstituteThe center helped Congressman John Murtha develop "strategic redeployment", a comprehensive plan for the Iraq War that included a timetable and troop withdrawals. ThinkProgress is a blog edited by Judd Legum that "provide a forum that advances progressive ideas and policies." It is an outlet of the Center for American Progress. Generation Progress is CAP's youth outreach arm. According to the organization, Generation Progress partners with over a million millennials. Known as the American Progress Action Fund, the Center for American Progress Action Fund is a "sister advocacy organization" and is organizationally and financially separate from CAP, although they share many staff and a physical address.
Politico wrote in April 2011 that it "openly runs political advocacy campaigns, plays a central role in the Democratic Party’s infrastructure, the new reporting staff down the hall isn’t walled off from that message machine, nor does it keep its distance from liberal groups organizing advocacy campaigns targeting conservatives". Whereas CAP is a 501 nonprofit, CAP Action is a 501. In 2003, George Soros promised to financially support the organization by donating up to $3 million. CAP Action is headed by Neera Tanden. "The Moscow Project" is one of its initiatives. The Washington Center for Equitable Growth known as Equitable Growth, is a research and grantmaking organization founded in 2013 and "housed at the Center for American Progress". Equitable Growth funds academic research in economics and other social sciences, with a particular interest in government's role in the distribution of economic growth and the role of public perceptions of fairness in shaping government policy. Science Progress was an internet publication about progressive technology policy.
Science Progress was a project of the Center for American Progress. Its mission was "to improve the understanding of science among policymakers and other thought leaders and to develop exciting, progressive ideas about innovation in science and technology for the United States in the 21st Century." It began publication on 4 October 2007, the fiftieth anniversary of the launch of Sputnik 1. Content on the web site included news, in-depth essays, text- and audio-based interviews; the Science Progress staff included Editor-In-Chief Jonathan D. Moreno. In 2017, the Center opposed Bernie Sanders' single-payer health plan. Critics said that this was because of funding from the health care industry, such as The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, the Health Care Service Corporation and America's Health Insurance Plans, who would be eliminated under Sanders' plan. In 2018, the Center proposed an alternative to single payer that would offer patients and employers a choice between government coverage and private insurance.
In October 2016, the Intercept reported that United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the U. S. Yousef Al Otaiba praised "a CAP report released that advocates for continued cooperation with Gulf states like Saudi Arabia and the UAE."In January 2019, two CAP staffers were fired for leaking an email exchange that suggested improper influence by the United Arab Emirates over the CAP. Some open government groups, such as the Sunlight Foundation and the Campaign Legal Center, criticized the Center's failure to disclose its contributors since it was so influential in appointments to the Obama administration. CAP was criticized by several Jewish organizations after some employees "publicly used language that could be construed as anti-Israel or anti-Semitic". Bloggers associated with CAP published several posts using phrases such as "apartheid" and "Israel-firsters", causing NGO Monitor, the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League to label them anti-Israel
Lord's Resistance Army
The Lord's Resistance Army known as the Lord's Resistance Movement, is a rebel group and heterodox Christian group which operates in northern Uganda, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Known as the United Holy Salvation Army and Uganda Christian Army/Movement, its stated goals include establishment of multi-party democracy, ruling Uganda according to the Ten Commandments, Acholi nationalism, though in practice "the LRA is not motivated by any identifiable political agenda, its military strategy and tactics reflect this", it appears to function as a personality cult of its leader Joseph Kony, a self-declared prophet whose leadership has earned him the nickname "Africa's David Koresh". The LRA was listed as a terrorist group by the United States, though it has since been removed from the list of designated active terrorist groups, it has been accused of widespread human rights violations, including murder, mutilation, child-sex slavery, forcing children to participate in hostilities.
Bantu-speaking agriculturists such as the Baganda people in Uganda's south and east developed different and competing social and economic structures from the Nilotic language speaking Acholi in the north, whose economic system was centred around hunting and livestock herding. The ethnic and cultural divisions within Uganda continued to exist during the years of the British Uganda Protectorate, created in 1894. While the agricultural Baganda people worked with the British, the Acholi and other northern ethnic groups supplied much of the national manual labour, came to comprise a majority of the military; the southern region became the centre for commercial trade development. The livestock-raising Acholi from the north of Uganda were resented for dominating the army and policing. Following the country's independence in 1962, Uganda's ethnic groups continued to compete with each other within the bounds of Uganda's new political system. In 1986, the armed rebellion waged by Yoweri Museveni's National Resistance Army won the Ugandan Bush War and achieved control of the country.
The victors sought vengeance against ethnic groups in the North of Uganda. Their activities included Operation Simsim, which engaged in burning and killings of locals; such acts of violence led to the formation of rebel groups from the ranks of the previous Ugandan army, UNLA. Many of those groups made peace with Museveni. However, the southern-dominated army did not stop attacking civilians in the north of the country. Therefore, by late 1987 to early 1988, a civilian resistance movement led by Alice Lakwena was formed. Lakwena did not pick up arms against the central government, she believed. Lakwena portrayed herself as a prophet who received messages from the Holy Spirit, expressed the belief that the Acholi could defeat the Museveni government, she preached that her followers should cover their bodies with shea nut oil as protection from bullets, never take cover or retreat in battle, never kill snakes or bees. Joseph Kony would preach a similar superstition, encouraging soldiers to use oil to draw a cross on their chest as a protection from bullets.
During a interview, Alice Lakwena distanced herself from Kony, claiming that the spirit does not want soldiers to kill civilians or prisoners of war. Kony sought to align himself with Lakwena and in turn garner support from her constituents going so far as to claim they were cousins. Meanwhile, Kony gained a reputation as having been possessed by spirits and became a spiritual figure or a medium, he and a small group of followers first moved beyond his home village of Odek on 1 April 1987. A few days he met a group of former Uganda National Liberation Front soldiers from the Black Battalion whom he managed to recruit, they launched a raid on the city of Gulu. By August 1987, Lakwena's Holy Spirit Mobile Force scored several victories on the battlefield and began a march towards the capital Kampala. In 1988, after the Holy Spirit Movement was decisively defeated in the Jinja District and Lakwena fled to Kenya, Kony seized this opportunity to recruit the Holy Spirit remnants; the LRA carried out local attacks to underline the inability of the government to protect the population.
The fact that most National Resistance Army government forces, in particular former members of the Federal Democratic Movement, were known for their lack of discipline and brutal actions meant that the civilian population were accused of supporting the rebel LRA. In March 1991, the Ugandan government's NRA started Operation North, which combined efforts to destroy the LRA, while cutting away its roots of support among the population through heavy-handed tactics; as part of Operation North, the army created the "Arrow Groups", village guards armed with bows and arrows. The creation of the Arrow Groups angered Kony, who began to feel that he no longer had the support of the population. After the failure of Operation North, Betty Bigombe initiated the first face-to-face meeting between representatives of the rebel LRA and NRA government; the rebels asked for a general amnesty for their combatants and to "return home", but the government stance was hampered by disagreement over the credibility of the LRA negotiators and political infighting.
At a meeting in January 1994, Kony asked for six months to regroup his troops, but by early February the tone of the negotiations was growing acrimonious and the LRA broke off negotiations, accusing the government of trying to entrap them. Starting in the mid-1990s, the LRA was strengthen
Africa is the world's second largest and second most-populous continent, being behind Asia in both categories. At about 30.3 million km2 including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth's total surface area and 20% of its land area. With 1.2 billion people as of 2016, it accounts for about 16% of the world's human population. The continent is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, the Isthmus of Suez and the Red Sea to the northeast, the Indian Ocean to the southeast and the Atlantic Ocean to the west; the continent includes various archipelagos. It contains 54 recognised sovereign states, nine territories and two de facto independent states with limited or no recognition; the majority of the continent and its countries are in the Northern Hemisphere, with a substantial portion and number of countries in the Southern Hemisphere. Africa's average population is the youngest amongst all the continents. Algeria is Africa's largest country by area, Nigeria is its largest by population. Africa central Eastern Africa, is accepted as the place of origin of humans and the Hominidae clade, as evidenced by the discovery of the earliest hominids and their ancestors as well as ones that have been dated to around 7 million years ago, including Sahelanthropus tchadensis, Australopithecus africanus, A. afarensis, Homo erectus, H. habilis and H. ergaster—the earliest Homo sapiens, found in Ethiopia, date to circa 200,000 years ago.
Africa encompasses numerous climate areas. Africa hosts a large diversity of ethnicities and languages. In the late 19th century, European countries colonised all of Africa. African nations cooperate through the establishment of the African Union, headquartered in Addis Ababa. Afri was a Latin name used to refer to the inhabitants of then-known northern Africa to the west of the Nile river, in its widest sense referred to all lands south of the Mediterranean; this name seems to have referred to a native Libyan tribe, an ancestor of modern Berbers. The name had been connected with the Phoenician word ʿafar meaning "dust", but a 1981 hypothesis has asserted that it stems from the Berber word ifri meaning "cave", in reference to cave dwellers; the same word may be found in the name of the Banu Ifran from Algeria and Tripolitania, a Berber tribe from Yafran in northwestern Libya. Under Roman rule, Carthage became the capital of the province it named Africa Proconsularis, following its defeat of the Carthaginians in the Third Punic War in 146 BC, which included the coastal part of modern Libya.
The Latin suffix -ica can sometimes be used to denote a land. The Muslim region of Ifriqiya, following its conquest of the Byzantine Empire's Exarchatus Africae preserved a form of the name. According to the Romans, Africa lay to the west of Egypt, while "Asia" was used to refer to Anatolia and lands to the east. A definite line was drawn between the two continents by the geographer Ptolemy, indicating Alexandria along the Prime Meridian and making the isthmus of Suez and the Red Sea the boundary between Asia and Africa; as Europeans came to understand the real extent of the continent, the idea of "Africa" expanded with their knowledge. Other etymological hypotheses have been postulated for the ancient name "Africa": The 1st-century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus asserted that it was named for Epher, grandson of Abraham according to Gen. 25:4, whose descendants, he claimed, had invaded Libya. Isidore of Seville in his 7th-century Etymologiae XIV.5.2. Suggests "Africa comes from the Latin aprica, meaning "sunny".
Massey, in 1881, stated that Africa is derived from the Egyptian af-rui-ka, meaning "to turn toward the opening of the Ka." The Ka is the energetic double of every person and the "opening of the Ka" refers to a womb or birthplace. Africa would be, for the Egyptians, "the birthplace." Michèle Fruyt in 1976 proposed linking the Latin word with africus "south wind", which would be of Umbrian origin and mean "rainy wind". Robert R. Stieglitz of Rutgers University in 1984 proposed: "The name Africa, derived from the Latin *Aphir-ic-a, is cognate to Hebrew Ophir." Ibn Khallikan and some other historians claim that the name of Africa came from a Himyarite king called Afrikin ibn Kais ibn Saifi called "Afrikus son of Abrahah" who subdued Ifriqiya. Africa is considered by most paleoanthropologists to be the oldest inhabited territory on Earth, with the human species originating from the continent. During the mid-20th century, anthropologists discovered many fossils and evidence of human occupation as early as 7 million years ago.
Fossil remains of several species of early apelike humans thought to have evolved into modern man, such as Australopithecus afarensis (radiometrically dated to 3.9–3.0 million years BP, Paranthropus boisei and Homo ergaster have been discovered. After the evolution of Homo sapiens sapiens 150,000 to 100,000 years BP in Africa, the continent was populated by groups of hunter-gatherers; these first modern humans left Africa and populated the rest of the globe during the Out of Africa II migration dated to 50,000 years BP, exiting the continent eith
Satellite Sentinel Project
The Satellite Sentinel Project was conceived by George Clooney and Enough Project co-founder John Prendergast during their October 2010 visit to South Sudan. Through the use of satellite imagery, SSP provides an early warning system to deter mass atrocities in a given situation by focusing world attention and generating rapid responses to human rights and human security concerns taking place in that situation. SSP produces reports on the state of the conflict in the border regions between Sudan and South Sudan. DigitalGlobe provides satellite imagery and analysis, their reporting is released to the press and policymakers by the Enough Project. In 2011, the Satellite Sentinel Project detected images of freshly-dug mass grave sites in the Southern Kordofan state of South Sudan, where Sudan’s Arab military has been targeting a black ethnic minority. SSP was the first to provide evidence consistent with the razing of the villages of Maker Abior and Tajalei in Sudan's contested Abyei region, the project has discovered eight alleged mass graves in South Kordofan, Sudan.
SSP plans to investigate how the illegal trade in diamonds, gold and other resources funds the activities of human-rights abusers. Not On Our Watch Project provided seed money to launch the Satellite Sentinel Project; the Enough Project contributes field reports, policy analysis and communications strategy, together with Not On Our Watch and its SUDANNOW partners, pressures policymakers by urging the public to act. Google and Internet strategy firm Trellon, LLC collaborate to design the web platform. Patrick Meier, a crisis mapping expert, has observed that the deterrent value of any surveillance is diminished in the absence of consequences for the perpetrators of violence. Specific to Sudan, other technologies such as drones are necessary to differentiate threats from nomads in order to generate actionable information. Official website Satellite Images May indicate War Crimes in Abyei, Joe DeCapua, Voice of America News, 2 June 2011 Satellite Sentinel Project: Opening Access to Crisis Areas Michael Blanding.
"Inside Harvard's spy lab". Boston Globe Magazine. Archived from the original on May 4, 2012
Sudan or the Sudan the Republic of the Sudan, is a country in Northeast Africa. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea to the east, Ethiopia to the southeast, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the southwest, Chad to the west, Libya to the northwest, it has a population of 39 million people and occupies a total area of 1,886,068 square kilometres, making it the third-largest country in Africa. Sudan's predominant religion is Islam, its official languages are Arabic and English; the capital is Khartoum, located at the confluence of the White Nile. Since 2011, Sudan is the scene of ongoing military conflict in its regions South Kordofan and Blue Nile. Sudan's history goes back to the Pharaonic period, witnessing the kingdom of Kerma, the subsequent rule of the Egyptian New Kingdom and the rise of the kingdom of Kush, which would in turn control Egypt itself for nearly a century. After the fall of Kush the Nubians formed the three Christian kingdoms of Nobatia and Alodia, with the latter two lasting until around 1500.
Between the 14th and 15th centuries much of Sudan was settled by Arab nomads. From the 16th–19th centuries and eastern Sudan were dominated by the Funj sultanate, while Darfur ruled the west and the Ottomans the far north; this period saw Arabization. From 1820 to 1874 the entirety of Sudan was conquered by the Muhammad Ali dynasty. Between 1881 and 1885 the harsh Egyptian reign was met with a successful revolt led by the self-proclaimed Mahdi Muhammad Ahmad, resulting in the establishment of the Caliphate of Omdurman; this state was destroyed in 1898 by the British, who would govern Sudan together with Egypt. The 20th century saw the growth of Sudanese nationalism and in 1953 Britain granted Sudan self-government. Independence was proclaimed on January 1, 1956. Since independence, Sudan has been ruled by a series of unstable parliamentary governments and military regimes. Under Gaafar Nimeiry, Sudan instituted Islamic law in 1983; this exacerbated the rift between the Islamic north, the seat of the government and the animists and Christians in the south.
Differences in language and political power erupted in a civil war between government forces influenced by the National Islamic Front and the southern rebels, whose most influential faction was the Sudan People's Liberation Army concluding in the independence of South Sudan in 2011. In April 2019, following contentious protests that faced fierce resistance from the Omar al-Bashir regime, the Sudanese military, under the command of Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf, took control of the nation and established a Transitional Military Council; this move dissolved the constitution. The country's place name Sudan is a name given to a geographical region to the south of the Sahara, stretching from Western Africa to eastern Central Africa; the name derives from the Arabic bilād as-sūdān, or "the lands of the Blacks". The name is one of several toponyms sharing similar etymologies meaning "land of the blacks" or similar meanings, in reference to the dark skin of the inhabitants; the term "Sudanese" had a negative connotation in Sudan due to its association with black African slaves.
The idea of "Sudanese" nationalism goes back to the 1930s and 1940s, when it was popularized by young intellectuals. By the eighth millennium BC, people of a Neolithic culture had settled into a sedentary way of life there in fortified mudbrick villages, where they supplemented hunting and fishing on the Nile with grain gathering and cattle herding. During the fifth millennium BC, migrations from the drying Sahara brought neolithic people into the Nile Valley along with agriculture; the population that resulted from this cultural and genetic mixing developed a social hierarchy over the next centuries which became the Kingdom of Kush at 1700 BC. Anthropological and archaeological research indicate that during the predynastic period Nubia and Nagadan Upper Egypt were ethnically, culturally nearly identical, thus evolved systems of pharaonic kingship by 3300 BC; the Kingdom of Kush was an ancient Nubian state centered on the confluences of the Blue Nile and White Nile, the Atbarah River and the Nile River.
It was established after the Bronze Age collapse and the disintegration of the New Kingdom of Egypt, centered at Napata in its early phase. After King Kashta invaded Egypt in the eighth century BC, the Kushite kings ruled as pharaohs of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty of Egypt for a century before being defeated and driven out by the Assyrians. At the height of their glory, the Kushites conquered an empire that stretched from what is now known as South Kordofan all the way to the Sinai. Pharaoh Piye attempted to expand the empire into the Near East, but was thwarted by the Assyrian king Sargon II; the Kingdom of Kush is mentioned in the Bible as having saved the Israelites from the wrath of the Assyrians, although disease among the besiegers was the main reason for the failure to take the city. The war that took place between Pharaoh Taharqa and the Assyrian king Sennacherib was a decisive event in western history, with the Nubians being defeated in their attempts to gain a foothold in the Near East by Assyria.
Sennacherib's successor Esarhaddon went further, invaded Egypt itself, deposing Taharqa and driving the Nubians from Egypt entirely. Taharqa fled back to his homeland. Egypt became an Assyrian colony.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo known as DR Congo, the DRC, DROC, Congo-Kinshasa, or the Congo, is a country located in Central Africa. It is sometimes anachronistically referred to by its former name of Zaire, its official name between 1971 and 1997, it is, by area, the largest country in Sub-Saharan Africa, the second-largest in all of Africa, the 11th-largest in the world. With a population of over 78 million, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the most populated Francophone country, the fourth-most-populated country in Africa, the 16th-most-populated country in the world. Eastern DR Congo is the scene of ongoing military conflict in Kivu, since 2015. Centred on the Congo Basin, the territory of the DRC was first inhabited by Central African foragers around 90,000 years ago and was reached by the Bantu expansion about 3,000 years ago. In the west, the Kingdom of Kongo ruled around the mouth of the Congo River from the 14th to 19th centuries. In the centre and east, the kingdoms of Luba and Lunda ruled from the 16th and 17th centuries to the 19th century.
In the 1870s, just before the onset of the Scramble for Africa, European exploration of the Congo Basin was carried out, first led by Henry Morton Stanley under the sponsorship of Leopold II of Belgium. Leopold formally acquired rights to the Congo territory at the Berlin Conference in 1885 and made the land his private property, naming it the Congo Free State. During the Free State, the colonial military unit, the Force Publique, forced the local population to produce rubber, from 1885 to 1908, millions of Congolese died as a consequence of disease and exploitation. In 1908, despite initial reluctance, formally annexed the Free State, which became the Belgian Congo; the Belgian Congo achieved independence on 30 June 1960 under the name Republic of the Congo. Congolese nationalist Patrice Lumumba was elected the first Prime Minister, while Joseph Kasa-Vubu became the first President. Conflict arose over the administration of the territory; the provinces of Katanga, under Moïse Tshombe, South Kasai attempted to secede.
After Lumumba turned to the Soviet Union for assistance in the crisis, the U. S. and Belgium became wary and oversaw his removal from office by Kasa-Vubu on 5 September and ultimate execution by Belgian-led Katangese troops on 17 January 1961. On 25 November 1965, Army Chief of Staff Joseph-Désiré Mobutu, who renamed himself Mobutu Sese Seko came into power through a coup d'état. In 1971, he renamed the country Zaire; the country was run as a dictatorial one-party state, with his Popular Movement of the Revolution as the sole legal party. Mobutu's government received considerable support from the United States, due to its anti-communist stance during the Cold War. By the early 1990s, Mobutu's government began to weaken. Destabilisation in the east resulting from the 1994 Rwandan genocide and disenfranchisement among the eastern Banyamulenge population led to a 1996 invasion led by Tutsi FPR-ruled Rwanda, which began the First Congo War. On 17 May 1997, Laurent-Désiré Kabila, a leader of Tutsi forces from the province of South Kivu, became President after Mobutu fled to Morocco, reverting the country's name to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Tensions between President Kabila and the Rwandan and Tutsi presence in the country led to the Second Congo War from 1998 to 2003. Nine African countries and around twenty armed groups became involved in the war, which resulted in the deaths of 5.4 million people. The two wars devastated the country. President Laurent-Désiré Kabila was assassinated by one of his bodyguards on 16 January 2001 and was succeeded eight days as President by his son Joseph; the Democratic Republic of the Congo is rich in natural resources but has had political instability, a lack of infrastructure, issues with corruption and centuries of both commercial and colonial extraction and exploitation with little holistic development. Besides the capital Kinshasa, the two next largest cities Lubumbashi and Mbuji-Mayi are both mining communities. DR Congo's largest export is raw minerals, with China accepting over 50% of DRC's exports in 2012. In 2016, DR Congo's level of human development was ranked 176th out of 187 countries by the Human Development Index.
As of 2018, around 600,000 Congolese have fled to neighbouring countries from conflicts in the centre and east of the DRC. Two million children risk starvation, the fighting has displaced 4.5 million people. The sovereign state is a member of the United Nations, Non-Aligned Movement, African Union, COMESA; the Democratic Republic of the Congo is named after the Congo River, which flows throughout the country. The Congo River is the world's second largest river by discharge; the Comité d'études du haut Congo, established by King Leopold II of Belgium in 1876, the International Association of the Congo, established by him in 1879, were named after the river. The Congo River itself was named by early European sailors after the Kingdom of Kongo and its Bantu inhabitants, the Kongo people, when they encountered them in the 16th century; the word Kongo comes from the Kongo language. According to American writer Samuel Henry Nelson "It is probable that the word'Kongo' itself implies a public gathering and that it is based on the root konga,'to gather'."
The modern name of the Kongo people, Bakongo was introduced in the early 20th century. The Democratic Republic of the Congo has been known in the past as, in chronological order, the Congo Free State, Belgian Congo, the Repub