Kasavubu, Joseph (kăsˌəvōˈbō, käˈsə–) [key], 1917?–1969, African political leader, president of the Republic of the Congo (1960–65, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). He studied for the Roman Catholic priesthood but did not complete his training. Later, he became active in the nationalist movement while teaching school and working for the Belgian government in the Congo. In 1946 he asserted that the Congolese were the legitimate owners of the country and that the Belgians, as intruders, had to leave. In 1955 he became president of Abako, a cultural association of the Bakongo people. Under his leadership Abako became a powerful political organization. Briefly imprisoned in 1959 for inciting violence, he later attended (1960) the conference at Brussels that led to independence for the Congo. He became (1960) the Congo's first head of state. There ensued a struggle for power between him and Patrice Lumumba, the premier, in which each attempted to dismiss the other. Lumumba was ousted by Kasavubu with the aid of Colonel Mobutu (see Mobutu Sese Seko). In 1965, Mobutu deposed Kasavubu, who retired from politics.
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