Joseph Kasa-Vubu (alternatively Joseph Kasavubu, 1910 – March 24, 1969) was the first President (1960–1965) of the Republic of the Congo, today called Democratic Republic of the Congo. He was educated by Catholic missionaries at a student seminary from 1928-1936 at Mbata Kiela. He studied theology and philosophy at the Kabwe seminary until 1939, before becoming a teacher. Kasa-Vubu was a leader of the ABAKO (Alliance des Bakongo) Movement of his own lower Congo River Bakongo people. Upon Congo's independence from Belgium, he was elected president by the Congo's new national assembly, taking office on June 30, 1960. The new republic was immediately disrupted by political and military strife and regional secessionist movements, while the central government was paralyzed by conflict between the conservative Kasa-Vubu and his nationalistic prime minister Patrice Lumumba. See Congo Crisis. On September 5, Kasa-Vubu dismissed Lumumba but the prime minister refused to accept this and in turn announced Kasa-Vubu's dismissal, creating a stalemate that was only ended on September 14 with army commander Joseph Mobutu's seizure of power and arrest of Lumumba. Lumumba was later handed to secessionist forces in the southern province of Katanga and killed. Over the next five years, Kasa-Vubu presided over a succession of weak governments. In July 1964 he appointed former Katangan secessionist leader Moise Tshombe as prime minister and permitted the use of European mercenaries against leftist rebels. Mobutu seized power for a second time on November 25, 1965, this time deposing Kasa-Vubu and subsequently declaring himself head of state.
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