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Updated Mar 2, 2020

Delphin Kahimbi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s deputy chief of staff for the armed forces (FARDC) and head of military intelligence, passed away at the Hôpital du Cinquantenaire in the capital Kinshasa on February 28. The information was confirmed to Jeune Afrique by Kahimbi’s wife, Brenda Kahimbi, and several high-ranking government officials who wished to remain anonymous. The cause of death is still undetermined, with Ms. Kahimbi claiming it was a heart attack whereas other sources suggested he had shot himself. A government probe investigating the circumstances of one of the DRC’s most powerful generals is under way.


Why It Matters

General Kahimbi wielded immense power and influence under former president Joseph Kabila. He maintained this influence into the presidency of Felix Tshisekedi, who has struggled to prove he is not a continuation of Kabila’s rule despite several close associates of Kabila holding positions of power in the FARDC and government offices. Prior to his removal, Kahimbi oversaw the repatriation of M23 rebel soldiers hiding out in neighboring Rwanda and Uganda. He was also advocating for the creation of a joint military and intelligence-sharing force between the DRC and its neighbors (Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda) to fight rebel groups in the Congo's east. Kahimbi and several other military officials were under multiple sanctions for alleged human rights violations, leading to pressure from the United States, Europe, and humanitarian watchdog groups calling for his removal.


Recent Signs of Trouble

Kahimbi was recently relieved of his position, after being detained by migration officials on February 20 while attempting to board a flight to South Africa. He, along with the ex-head of the National Intelligence Agency, Kalev Mutond, were accused of distributing weapons in for the purpose of destabilization. Kahimbi was separately suspected of putting the Congolese government under unofficial surveillance.

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