Death Of Patrice Lumumba
Accra, February 14, 1961
Somewhere in Katanga in the Congo where and when we do not know —three of our brother freedom fighters have been done to death.
They have been killed: Patrice Lumumba, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Congo, Maurice Mpolo, the Minister in his Government who was elected from Katanga Province, and Joseph Okito, the Vice President of the Congolese Senate.
About their end, many things are uncertain but one fact is crystal clear —they have been killed because the United Nations, whom Patrice Lumumba himself; as Prime Minister, had invited to the Congo to preserve law and order, not only failed to maintain that law and order, but also denied to the lawful Government of the Congo all other means of self-protection.
History records many occasions when rulers of States have been assassinated. The murder of Patrice Lumumba and his two colleagues, however, is unique in that, this is the first time in history that the legal ruler of a country has been done to death with the open connivance of a world organisation in whom that ruler put his trust.
These are the facts: Patrice Lumumba was appointed Prime Minister by the departing Belgian authorities because, he was the leader of the Parliamentary Party with the largest representation and was the only Member of Parliament who could obtain a majority in both the Senate and the Chamber. Kasavubu was subsequently elected as the ceremonial Head of the State but it was clearly agreed and understood that he should have no more authority or power than has the King of the Belgians in Belgium. This fact, clearly written into the Constitution of the Congo, has been deliberately ignored and distorted by those who have sought for their own ends to give some appearance of legality to the military usurpers and the agents of colonial rule who have illegally seized power in some parts of the Congo.
Shortly after independence, the Congolese army mutinied. Patrice Lumumba and his colleagues had to secure outside support from somewhere if they were to preserve the legal structure of the State. In the interests of world peace and in order to prevent the cold war from being brought into Africa, Patrice Lumumba invited the United Nations to preserve law and order. The United Nations insisted that they should have the sole mandate to do this and that the legal Government of the Congo should not obtain that military assistance which would have otherwise been forthcoming from many other friendly African States.
However, instead of preserving law and order, the United Nations declared itself neutral between law and disorder and refused to lend any assistance whatsoever to the legal Government in suppressing the mutineers who had set themselves up in power in Katanga and South Kasai.
When, in order to move its troops against the rebels, the Government of the Congo obtained some civilian aircraft and civilian motor vehicles from the Soviet Union, the colonialist Powers at the United Nations raised a howl of rage while, at the same time, maintaining a discreet silence over the build-up of Belgian arms and actual Belgian military forces in the service of the rebels.
With a total disregard of the Constitution, which expressly provided that the President could not dismiss the Prime Minister, unless there had been a vote of "no confidence" in the parliament, Kasavubu illegally tried to remove Patrice Lumumba from office and to substitute another Government. When Lumumba wished to broadcast to the people, explaining what had happened, the United Nations in the so-called interest of law and order prevented him by force from speaking. They did not, however, use the same force to prevent the mutineers of the Congolese Army from seizing power in Leopoldville and installing a completely illegal Government.
Despite the fact that one of the most important reasons for the United Nations, action was supposedly to see that all Belgian forces were removed, the United Nations sat by while the so-called Katanga Government, which is entirely, Belgian—controlled, imported aircraft and arms from Belgium and from other countries, such as South Africa, which have a vested interest in the suppression of African freedom. The United Nations connived at the setting up, in fact, of an independent Katanga State, though this is contrary to the Security Council’s own resolutions.
Finally, the United Nations, which could exert its authority to prevent Patrice Lumumba from broadcasting, was, (so it pleaded,) quite unable to prevent his arrest by mutineers or his transfer, through the use of airfields under United Nations control, into the hands of the Belgian-dominated Government of Katanga.
The United Nations is, on behalf of all its members, in control of the finances of the Congo. It is now two months ago since I personally wrote to Mr. Hammerskjoeld to ask him where the money came from which is being used to pay the soldiers in Mobutu’s illegal army. I am still waiting for an answer. One thing is certain; however, this money does not come from the revenue of the Congo. It is supplied from outside by those who wish to restore colonialism in practice by maintaining in office a puppet regime entirely financially dependent upon them.
The time has come to speak plainly. The danger in the Congo is not so much the possibility of a civil war between Africans, but rather, a colonialist war in which the colonial and imperialist power hide behind African puppet regimes. At this very moment, Northern Katanga is being laid waste by military units under command of a regular officer of the Belgian army, Colonel Crevecoeur, armed with the most modern weapons supplied by Belgium. Recruiting offices have been opened in South Africa, in France and elsewhere, and wages of over four hundred pounds a month are being offered to former German fascist officers and to former collaborators of Hitler and Mussolini in other countries in order to persuade them to enlist in the unholy war against the African people.
Where, l ask again, does the money come from to pay these big salaries and to buy all of this modern and expensive armament which is now being deployed against unarmed peasants and villagers?
The rulers of the United States, of the United Kingdom, of France and of the other powers who are militarily allied with Belgium, must answer these questions.
Why did they express so loudly their indignation when the Soviet Union placed at the disposal of the legal Government of Congo civilian aircraft and civilian vehicles? Why are they so silent when their ally, Belgium, openly supplies military aircraft and armoured vehicles to the rebels? Why is it that no single member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has on any occasion addressed to Belgium any public rebuke for the flagrant breaches of the Security Council resolution in which Belgium is every day indulging? Alas, the architects of this murder are many.
In Ghana, we realize the great financial stakes which some great powers have in the United Miniere and in other industrial and commercial undertakings in the Congo. I would however, ask these powers these questions: Do they really believe that ultimately, they can safeguard their investments and their interests in the Congo by convening at a brutal and savage colonialist war?
Do they realize that they are sacrificing African lives to continue in Africa, the cold war at the very time when all powers, both great and small, should be concentrating on the abolition of colonialism and establishment of world peace?
Patrice Lumumba, Maurice Mpolo and Joseph Okito have died because they put their faith in the United Nations and because they refused to allow themselves to be used as stooges or puppets for external interests.
There is still time for those who have supported this cruel colonialist war in the Congo to change their policy, but time is running out.
The cynical planning of the murder of Patrice Lumumba and his colleagues is a final lesson for us all. We cannot ignore the fact that this crime shows every evidence of the most careful preparation and timing. First, there came the handing over of Patrice Lumumba and others to the Belgian-controlled authorities in Katanga.
Next, there came the contemptuous refusal of these same authorities to allow the United Nations Conciliation Committee any access to the prisoners. From this came the final proof that the United Nations would not effectively intervene to save the lives of the Prime Minister or his colleagues. This was followed by the formation of the so-called new Kasavubu Government and the warning by Belgium to Belgian nationals to leave those parts of the Congo controlled by the legal Government.
Finally, came the story so reminiscent of Nazi and Fascist technique — the false account of an attempt to escape and the death of the prisoners following upon it. What are the next steps in this plan? The information before me now is that the Kasavubu-Mobutu group has planned an offensive against Orientale Province in an attempt to secure a quick military victory before the Security Council can deal with the matter.
My information is that this plan has been made with the full knowledge of the French and Belgian Governments and has their full support. Let me issue a most serious warning: Any such action, unless immediately denounced by the other members of the Security Council, will have a profound effect on African relations with the great powers.
Our dear brothers, Patrice Lumumba, Maurice Mpolo and Joseph Okito are dead, and I ask you all to join me in mourning the loss which the whole African continent has sustained through their cruel murder. But their spirit is not dead, nor are the things for which they stood: African freedom, the unity and independence of Africa, and the final and complete destruction of colonialism and imperialism.
The colonialists and imperialists have killed them but what they cannot do, is to kill the ideals which we still preach, and for which they sacrificed their lives. In the Africa of the future, their names will live forever more.
A Message of Condolence sent by the Osagyefo on February 14, 1961, to Madam Lumumba on the death of her husband.
The cruel murder of your beloved husband and our dear brother and comrade in the struggle for liberation of the African continent, has come not only as a personal shock to me but also as a tragedy which the Government and people of Ghana and the rest of the African continent cannot easily forget.
The Government and people of Ghana join me in sending you our deepest condolence for a loss which does not only rob you and your children of a dear husband and father but deprives the whole of Africa of the counsel of one of its noblest sons of our age. I loved Patrice both as a person and as a politician with both a vision and a message for Africa; and you and I, as well as all patriotic sons of Africa, shall miss him dearly.
In this terrible hour, I urge you to be consoled by the fact that your dear husband died in a just and noble cause; his memory shall not be dulled by passage of yours nor shall time extinguish the flame he has kindled in the hearts of many; Africa shall, always remember him as one of its greatest sons, who laid down his life that Africa might be free.
May God bless his soul.
An official statement issued by the office 0f the President on the situation in the Congo following the death of Mr. Lumumba.
The Government of Ghana has noted with considerable concern, a press statement attributed to the President of the United States and to the effect that the only legal authority entitled to speak for the Congo as a whole is a Government established under the Chief of State, President Kasavubu.
Under the Constitution of the Congolese Republic, President Kasavubu has no executive powers and is a constitutional ruler in the same sense as is the King of the Belgians.
The Constitution of the Congo was unanimously agreed upon by all political parties, including that of Mr. Kasavubu and of Mr. Tshombe at the round table conference in Brussels. Under this Constitution, the powers of the President are purely ceremonial, as are those of the King of the Belgians. In particular, the President is not entitled to dismiss a Government, unless there is a vote of no confidence in both Houses of Parliament carried by an absolute majority of the Members of each House. Alternatively, the Government may be dismissed if there is a vote of no confidence carried by two-thirds of the Members present and voting in the Chambers sitting together. Before a new Government can be legally installed, it must receive a vote of confidence in both Houses of Parliament and until the new Government has received this vote of confidence, the out-going Government remains in office.
The alleged appointment by President Kasavubu of a new Government in place of that of the late Mr. Lumumba was thus doubly illegal. In the first place, there was no vote of no confidence in Mr. Lumumba’s Government, without which the President was not entitled in law to dismiss the Government and secondly, the Government which he subsequently claimed to install never received a vote of confidence from Parliament. Even, therefore, if President Kasavubu had been entitled to dismiss Mr. Lumumba’s Government, which he was not, under the Constitution, Mr. Lumumba’s Government remained in power until a new Government obtained a vote of confidence in Parliament.
There can thus be no doubt that under the Constitution of the Congo, the only legal and legitimate Government is that formed by the late Mr. Lumumba and now established under Mr. Gizenga in Stanleyville.
Under the principles of international law, it is improper to recognize a revolutionary Government which is based upon the overthrow of the Constitution unless, it is at least in de facto control of the country. In fact, the so-called Government which have been set up by Mr. Kasavubu have been in control of nothing. All effective power in Leopoldville has been in the hands of a mutinous soldier, Colonel Mobutu, who claimed that he had deposed Mr. Kasavubu and who forcibly prevented Parliament from meeting.
In the view of the Government of Ghana, the statement attributed by the press to President Kennedy marks a most dangerous departure from the principles of international law and is likely considerable to aggravate the situation in the Congo.
It is quite true that from time to time, countries with a democratic form of Government have acknowledged regimes which have arisen through the overthrow by force of the Constitution of the country concerned and which have involved the suppression of all parliamentary institutions. There is however, fundamental difference between the case of the Congo and that of other suppressions of democratic regimes by force. In the case of the Congo, the
United Nations were invited to send their armed forces to the Republic by the legitimate Government which had been installed in office strictly in accordance with the Constitution.
During the period when the United Nations were in occupation, this legitimate Government was overthrown by a military revolt and an entirely unconstitutional regime established. The Government of Ghana takes the most serious view of the fact that apparently one permanent member of the Security Council is prepared to acknowledge the legitimacy of a Government formed in such circumstances. If such a principle were to be generally accepted, it would destroy the whole basis upon which United Nations aid has hitherto been granted to legitimate Governments seeking support against external aggression. The very fact that United Nations troops are in any particular country means that country must forego the aid which it would normally receive from other friendly states to preserve its internal security. The presence of United Nations forces in control of airfields and of the means of communications, limit the powers of the Government which has invited these forces into its country and makes it difficult for that Government to deal with subversion from within. lf now the principle is to be accepted, that if under such circumstance a revolt can be engineered, permanent members of the Security Council are entitled l acknowledge as legitimate a military dictatorship based on the suppression of parliamentary liberties and institutions, then democracy is everywhere endangered.
It would appear from the press reports of President Kennedy’s statement that the President of the United States justified his action by stating that President Kasavubu has been seated in the General Assembly of the United Nations majority vote of its members. If President Kennedy has been correctly reported this would appear to be a complete misunderstanding of the principle international law as they are understood by the Government of Ghana. All Heads of State are seated in the United Nations in the sense that they personify country of which they are the head. In the case of a constitutional Monarch or President, however, this is a purely theoretical conception. The Queen of a United Kingdom, for example, is also seated in the United Nations as the Queen of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Ceylon and has, indeed addressed the United Nations in this joint capacity. The constitutional Government theory apparently advanced by President Kennedy to justify United States recognition of the unconstitutional Government of the Congo that, the Queen in her personal capacity would be entitled to dismiss say, Government of Canada or Ceylon and that the United Nations would be to seat whatever Government she might nominate in their place, irrespective the provisions of the Constitutions of Canada or Ceylon.
The Government of Ghana has invited the Ambassador of the United in Ghana to seek clarification of the statement made by President Kennedy; the Government of Ghana is most reluctant to believe that he would have forward a constitutional proposition of this nature. It is quite true that the United Nations did seat a delegation which had nominated by President Kasavubu, but which had not been endorsed by legitimate Government of the Republic of the Congo. At this time, however Mobutu was commanding some of the Congolese troops in Leopoldville and announced that by the end of the year, he was proposing to relinquish the authority which he had seized by forced and to permit Parliament to re-assemble. The vote in favour of seating the delegation nominated by President Kasavubu was in a large degree secured by the belief among some countries that constitutional Government was about to be restored and that either the Government nominated by President Kasavubu would receive parliamentary approval, or else another Government which has the support of Parliament, would be formed.
It is, however, most important to note, that the proposal to seat this delegation was not supported by any one whatsoever of the countries which had supplied contingents of troops for service in the Congo. No single country represented on the Conciliation Committee voted in favour of this proposal, which was considered by the countries which had experience of Congo conditions as most unlikely to lead to any good result.
The Government of Ghana therefore, much regrets that the Government of the United States should justify its action in acknowledging a Government based on the suppression of all parliamentary institutions and liberties by a vote in the United Nations which all those countries concerned most intimately with the affairs of the Congo were unanimously unable to support.
A Message from Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrurnah, President of the Republic of Ghana, to the Secretary General of the United Nations February 20, 1961.
It is now time that a new and serious approach be made to the present ineffective efforts of the United Nations in the Congo, if the United Nations is to be saved and the future peace of Africa assured. As I indicated at the beginning of the operations in the Congo, the problem must be tackled in two phases — first, the military problem and second, the political one. Unless the military problem can be solved first, there can be no lasting political solution.
I would like to come to New York to give my views on both phases, because, I am certain that from now on, the initiative must come from the African countries with military support from the Asian bloc. All initiative and aid from the big or NATO powers should cease. The flow of arms and equipment into the Congo provides conditions which could lead to a civil war of the Spanish type, with grave consequences throughout the whole world.
All Belgian military, paramilitary and other personnel serving the various factions should be expelled from the Congo at once. All non-African and Asian military personnel not specifically required to work under the United Nations Command must leave the Congo. The situation is so serious that in my view, the interpretation of the Security Council Mandate, namely, non-interference in the internal affairs of the Congo, is no longer tenable. The plan which I envisage for dealing with — the present situation is as follows:
a) A new United Nations Command should be established in the Congo.
b) This Command must be African and should take over complete responsibility for law and order in the Congo.
c) All Congolese armed units should be disarmed; this disarming will involve their return to barracks and the surrender of their weapons to the new United Nations Command.
d) The disarming and hand-over should be voluntary, and should lead to the re-organisation and re-training of the Congolese National Army; but if certain factions will not cooperate, force must be used.
e) All non-African personnel serving in the Congolese Army must be expelled immediately.
f) Once the military situation has been brought under control on these lines, all political prisoners must be released by the new United Nations Command, and the new Command should then convene Parliament under its auspices.
g) All foreign Diplomatic Missions and representatives should immediately leave the Congo for the time being, in order to give this new United Nations Command a fair chance and to eliminate the cold war from the Congo.
In view of the importance of the matter, I propose that you should circulate this communication to members of the Security Council and I am releasing the contents of this telegram to the press at 1800 Hours GMT.
Awaiting your reply earliest.