200. Telegram From the Embassy in the Congo to the Department of State0

640. 06/2100 was called urgently to Lumumba’s office. In course hour and half session we were joined by Deputy Prime Minister Gizenga (who like dormouse, slept through most of meeting), Minister Justice Mwamba, Minister Education Mulele, Minister Information Kashamura and a few assistants.

Lumumba said he had previously called in Russian, Moroccan and “several other Ambassadors in order to explain his position”. Made following points.

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Kasavubu’s action completely unexpected. They had met only last Saturday1 discuss certain matters and Chief of State had given no indication lack of confidence.
In any case action quite illegal. Then followed long exposé his version fundamental law particularly article 20, requiring such an action be signed by responsible Minister. Prime Minister said only written notice of action he had yet received was signed original of Kasavubu’s radio speech which he, Lumumba, had by chance found at the radio station. (Note: Kasavubu has claimed he has signature two Ministers but not clear what he has done with document.)

He was forced to conclusion this was Belgian-French plot (because Kasavubu has a Belgian and a French advisor) but more important UN was in it from beginning. When I asked him if he had any proof of this he said only circumstantial, viz (A) fact Ghanaian troops led by white officer had tried prevent him from speaking on radio night before, (B)UN had closed all airports preventing central government from carrying out functions; in fact General Lundula who was en route from Stanleyville may well have crashed owing UN refusal let him land here. (Have since learned Lundula’s IL–14 made it to Brazzaville and Lundula now Leopoldville.)

This led to long discussion US, USSR and UN role in Congo during which I pointed out US felt UN best guarantor new country’s integrity therefore US had given UN massive financial support, assistance whereas Russians had attempted to sabotage by acting bilaterally and that this could only result in involving Congo in East-West struggle to country’s detriment. He said he had asked both US and UN for planes but had been turned down so was forced to accept them from Russians. It was obvious that he obsessed with idea of airplanes and that nothing that has been done by US or UN has made much impression.

He expressed confidence that the great majority of the peoples and the troops supported him and said Kasavubu had only been made President with his support. The matter would have to be considered by the Parliament and meanwhile the Council of Ministers had assumed the prerogatives of the Chief of State.
I told him that I had always conceived it my duty to speak to him frankly and reiterated my view that accepting unilateral assistance from Soviets not in long-run interest of Congo which had already been pledged support of entire world through UN [and] promised transmit his views to my government.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 770G.00/9–760. Official Use Only; Niact. Repeated to Paris, London, USUN, and Brussels.
  2. September 3.