243. Telegram From the Mission at the United Nations to the Department of State0

1021. Re: Congo, Deptel 680.1

We called on SYG this morning to tell him we thought Lumumba should be removed from Prime Minister’s residence because of psychological impact this would have. SYG said residence was merely one house in row of others along river where Congolese never went and he doubted whether moving him would make any difference. We replied that it did make difference in psychological impression externally and inasmuch as Lumumba had been legally deposed we thought symbols of office should be taken away from him.
SYG said he still regarded Lumumba as being PM. He said he had always taken position Kasavubu divesting or [sic] was legal but because of surrounding circumstances and general situation this act did not have intended legal consequences; Ileo govt had never been presented to Parliament and Ileo was phantom who was nowhere to be seen. Furthermore, Kasavubu had further clouded issue by appointing College of Commissioners whose Commissioner General (Bomboko) was supposedly FonMin in Ileo govt. Only parliamentary action since deposition of Lumumba had been to re-endorse Lumumba’s status as PM, regardless of what might be said about size of vote and circumstances surrounding it. We said according our info Loi Fondamentale based on existing Belgian constitutional law to which [Page 530] one should look for interpretation for Congo. By terms of this, old govt loses caretaker status from moment new govt is named, even before parliamentary approval. SYG recognized that Belgian practice was different from that of Sweden, Italy and some other European countries where deposed govt automatically becomes caretaker govt. He seemed to dismiss this difference as unapplicable and said because of lack of legal follow-up and confusion created by various Kasavubu actions he could only regard Lumumba as PM.
We then said that basic problem with which we were concerned was that UN actions in recent weeks had tended to build up Lumumba and weaken efforts to create alternative govt. If he could not move Lumumba from PM’s house perhaps there were some other steps he could take which would help bolster prestige of others. SYG said this was perfectly valid objective for Timberlake and U.S. but it could not be objective for UN; on this our views would simply have to differ.
We also raised question of UN troops protecting Lumumba while he traveled around city. SYG said this was error for which Ghanaian troops had been reprimanded and which he did not expect to reoccur.
SYG himself expressed concern about good offices commission, especially about efforts Menon seems to be making to get on commission. SYG felt Menon would try to undermine Narayanan,2 Dayal and Rikhye, all of whom were “anti-Menon” Indians. Comment: While he obviously wants to avoid or delay good offices commission, we are doubtful whether he will exercise much initiative in doing so.
SYG again said he regarded Mobutu as of little value. He said he had just received telegram from Mobutu denying he had concurred in another recent telegram to SYG critical of UN and signed Kasavubu and Mobutu. (We are not clear what telegram this is, but SYG said he has received communications daily from them.) He also seems to think Mobutu is leaning again toward Lumumba at moment.
SYG said one of his main objectives at moment is to “break” Tshombe. He plans to do this by insisting that all help to Tshombe come through UN, e.g., SYG plans to get rid of all Tshombe’s Belgian advisers and supporters. He then hopes to bring Tshombe into Leopoldville picture, thus producing change in general political situation there.
He expressed little regard for Kanza, implying Kanza consistently adjusting his position to whomever will come out on top.
SYG raised question of warrant for Lumumba’s arrest. He said it was clearly improper. One part of warrant accused Lumumba of political crime while another referred to him as parliamentary deputy. [Page 531] Parliamentary deputies had immunity from arrest for political activities. He fully concurred with Dayal’s position that this was effort at “political violence” and “prima-facie” case not made for arrest.
SYG also said he had revised his previous estimates about Sov activities in Congo. He had always thought they endeavored to get into Congo in major way at end July and early August, after problem had developed. He now thinks they were involved in initial mutiny of Force Publique and were making Congo major element of their African designs from moment of independence and before. He believes UN frustration of this Sov effort is reason for violent Sov reaction.
He told us Guinea had made effort to send unit of 200 more men into Congo. He was not specific as to how this was approached, but he said issue had been raised to HQ level and he had told Guineans this would be contrary to GA resolutions on Congo prohibiting introduction any military assistance except through UN. He implied UN would not accept any more Guinean troops. He also told us UAR had sent some of its units to Leopoldville without UN approval. He had taken this up directly with Nasser who had issued orders that UAR troops were to obey UN orders fully. SYG implied UAR troops had subsequently withdrawn at UN request. He also said Ghanaians had sent plane with Welbeck and 60 persons, whose status he did not know, toward Leopoldville last week, but they had turned back. He said he did not understand how Congolese could refuse Welbeck’s return, as he was Ghanaian Chargé, and relations had not been broken, but this seemed to be position Mobutu was taking.
Comment: It was obvious from this conversation SYG is not now prepared to take any steps to diminish Lumumba’s position and he will continue to provide protection to Lumumba even though this may result in UN bolstering his position in Congo. (He observed that UN had to act on basis of principles; these principles had previously worked in favor of Kasavubu and others; they were now working in favor of Lumumba.) While we have no reason to believe he has changed his views about Lumumba, it seems apparent that heavy Soviet attack against him coupled particularly with support of Lumumba and public or private criticisms by usual group of Afro-Asians, have resulted in SYG shifting toward position involving accommodation with Lumumba. This was already evident in previous conversations we have had with him when he supported necessity of some type of “reconciliation” in Congo. It is even clearer now. Our estimate is that this is effort on his part to accommodate himself to what he feels are realities of political forces at play, that while he would be delighted to see Lumumba out of way he feels he can no [Page 532] longer take any hand in it but must leave it entirely to others, and that he must now play UN hand along indicated lines even if result is to bolster Lumumba.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 770G.00/10–1560. Secret; Limited Distribution.
  2. Dated October 14, telegram 680 to USUN instructed the Mission to discuss with Hammarskjöld the question of removing Lumumba from the Prime Minister’s residence. (Ibid., 770G.00/10–1460) Telegram 994 from USUN, October 14, reported that Wadsworth had been unable to arrange an interview with Hammarskjöld and that the Mission had therefore discussed the subject with Wieschhoff. The latter had expressed the view that political relationships in the Congo were so unstable and complex that neither permitting Lumumba’s arrest nor shifting him to another residence was likely to have permanent results; the difficulties exceeded the possible gains. He thought the best thing Mobutu could do would be to keep Lumumba in isolation by keeping a tight cordon around the residence. (Ibid.)
  3. Probably Chakravarthi Vijayaraghava Narasimhan, U.N. Under Secretary for Special Political Affairs.