Posted December 9th, 2011 at 11:20 am (UTC-5)
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Congolese President Joseph Kabila originally rose to power a decade ago, at the age of 29, after the assassination of his father, Laurent.

Laurent Kabila had become president after helping to oust dictator Mobutu Sese Seko. He appointed Joseph, the eldest of his ten children, as chief of the country's armed forces.

After the elder Kabila was assassinated by one of his soldiers, Congolese ministers settled on making Joseph Kabila the new president in early 2001.

He took over a vast country torn by years of warfare that involved several of Congo's neighbors. He brought an end to the war through diplomacy in 2003, then solidified his position by winning Congo's first free presidential election in 2006.

During his decade in power, President Kabila has come to be known as a reserved leader who shuns media attention.

Supporters say he has lifted Congo from war and put it on a path toward economic prosperity.

But human rights groups have accused the Congolese leader of violently crushing uprisings and political opponents.

After his 2006 election victory, Mr. Kabila's security forces fought gunbattles in Kinshasa with forces of the president's election rival, Jean-Pierre Bemba, and hundreds of people died.

The mineral-rich country of 71 million also continues to be plagued by corruption. And huge swaths of the Congo still have little or no infrastructure.