Democratic Republic of Congo profile
President: Joseph Kabila
Joseph Kabila became Congo's president when his father Laurent was assassinated in 2001.
He was elected president 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 magnates who have signed multi-million dollar deals under his rule.
He is a former guerrilla fighter who participated in nearly a decade of war that ravaged the country.
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 as the despotic, whimsical and corrupt leader of the nation he had renamed Zaire.
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.
He swapped his military fatigues for elegant business suits, but - in contrast to jovial and temperamental father - remains a reserved figure.
Mr Kabila has promised to rule by consensus to try to heal the scars of Congo's many conflicts.
Though revered in the Swahili-speaking east, where he was widely credited with helping to end Congo's 1998-2003 war, he is less liked in the west.
Joseph Kabila is the eldest of 10 children fathered by Laurent Kabila. He spent much of his early life in East Africa, where his dissident father lived in exile.