246. Telegram From the Department of State to the Mission at the United Nations 0

716. SYG’s comments reftel 1 appear to represent basic change in his position. We believe therefore it is important that Wadsworth and Barco, with Bohlen who will be in NY Friday,2 seek appointment with SYG to discuss Congo question frankly with him in order ascertain more fully his views and to make sure he understands US evaluation and conclusions. You should make clear that this discussion being undertaken at express request of Secretary. If there are differences with SYG, we think it important for these to be clearly understood. Following considerations are provided for your guidance:


SYG has said he still regards Lumumba as Prime Minister. This represents a shift from SYG position both from legal as well as political point of view. On September 7 he told Wallner he would recognize, deal with and by implication, strongly support Kasavubu in his struggle with Lumumba.3 On September 10 he told USUN he still must break Lumumba and believed he will be able to do it, but that it was extremely difficult “to break Hitlers when alternatives were Hindenburgs.”4 Moreover, SYG made statement in SC meeting of ____5 to effect that he was dealing with Kasavubu./4/

From legal point of view SYG appears be basing his position on thesis that since parliament has not confirmed Ileo government, Lumumba remains Prime Minister. On legal question, it remains our position that Congo Constitution gave President Kasavubu power to dismiss Lumumba. Congolese Constitution clearly relates to Belgian parliamentary system and not to that of other continental or British systems. Article 22 gives President power to appoint Prime Ministers as well as to dismiss them. Kasavubu has appointed new government, the Ileo government. Although Constitution does not expressly cover case like this, the only case in which it calls for outgoing government to continue in caretaker capacity is when government resigns as result of parliamentary vote of no confidence. This quite logical since parliament cannot appoint successor government. But it would be illogical to expect Constitution to make such provision applicable when Chief of [Page 538] State dismisses cabinet since he can immediately provide successor government. This Kasavubu has done. Hence we regard Lumumba as legally dismissed as Prime Minister and Ileo cabinet as de jure government. This is case even though this government still has to go before parliament for formal vote of confidence in accordance with article 22 of Constitution which sets no time limit within which this must take place.

More important than legal considerations are political and practical results which we believe would ensue if SYG in fact insists on moving on two fronts: breaking Tshombe and removing all Belgian influence from Katanga coupled with political and pragmatic accommodation with Lumumba. We appreciate fully pressure that SYG has been under from USSR. Moreover, we understand completely reasons for doing everything feasible for maintaining maximum support among Africans and Asians. But Department would be less than frank if we did not inform Hammarskjold now that as we see it practical results of moving along two fronts he has indicated will mean return of Lumumba to power, renewed demands by him for UN to withdraw, massive Soviet intervention, fraught with possibility of major international conflict. We are confident that this is not what Hammarskjold wants—in fact SYG has made clear in past his view UN cannot work with Lumumba—but we nevertheless do not see how from practical point of view Hammarskjold actions along two fronts noted above can lead to anything other than bringing Congo back to state of chaos in which it was found when UN operation was launched. If question is matter of timing and Hammarskjold is thinking in terms of temporary slowdown in pragmatic steps that can help to bring about kind of result which we and he have wanted this is one thing. However, if views which he expressed represent change in objectives then it would be well for us and SYG to understand this clearly, since this will require fundamental reassessment of situation on our part.6

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 770G.00/10–1960. Secret; Priority, Limited Distribution. Drafted by Sisco; cleared by Bohlen, Stoessel, Satterthwaite, and Kohler; and approved by Herter.
  2. The reference telegram is not further identified but is presumably Document 243.
  3. October 21.
  4. See Document 202.
  5. See footnote 1, Document 206.
  6. As on the source text; reference is to the Security Council meeting of September 9/10
  7. Telegram 727 to USUN, October 20, encouraged the Mission to draw upon the views expressed by Ambassador Timberlake in Document 245. (Department of State, Central Files, 770G.00/10–1960)