Democratic Republic of Congo profile
President: Joseph Kabila
Joseph Kabila became president when his father Laurent was assassinated in 2001. He was elected in 2006, and secured another term in controversial elections in 2011.
Mr Kabila has enjoyed the clear support of western governments, regional allies such as South Africa and Angola, and mining groups that have signed multi-million dollar deals under his rule.
He fought alongside his father in a military campaign from the east that toppled dictator Mobutu Sese Seko in 1997 after more than 20 years of despotic, whimsical and corrupt rule.
But when Laurent Kabila was killed by a bodyguard in 2001, his soft-spoken, publicity-shy son, who underwent military training in China, was thrust into the political limelight and installed as the world's youngest head of state.
Mr Kabila has promised to rule by consensus to try to heal the scars of Congo's many conflicts. Although revered in the Swahili-speaking east, where he is widely credited with helping to end the 1998-2013 wars, he is less liked in the west.