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

1095. Verbatim text. Subject: Re Congo, ourtel niact 1059.1 Following is text memo, based on Dept’s tels to us, and cleared with Dept, which was sent to SYG Friday 21, October, preparatory to subsequent discussion with him:

“I have been requested by the Secretary of State to discuss with you certain matters relating to the Congo and to express to you our current views.

The objectives of the United States in regard to the Congo are the same as have been previously expressed to you. We want the United Nations effort in the Congo to succeed. We have supported the United Nations fully and continue to support it fully to this end. We want to see a free and independent Congo. We want to keep the cold war entirely out of the Congo. We are confident these objectives are the Secretary General’s objectives.

However, we believe it would be desirable to have a frank discussion regarding certain developments in relationship to the Congo about which we are seriously concerned as well as the methods currently being employed by the United Nations in the Congo. We are concerned regarding your note of October 8 to the Government of [Page 543] Belgium.2 We are also concerned because of the latest information which we have received from the United States Mission regarding your views on the constitutional situation prevailing in the Republic of the Congo, and with the effects of recent actions by the United Nations in the Republic of the Congo itself.

  • First, we wish to express the views of the United States regarding the legal and constitutional situation in the Congo.

    The Loi Fondamentale of the Republic of the Congo explicitly gives the President of the Republic power to dismiss the Prime Minister. The Loi Fondamentale is based on the Belgian parliamentary system and not on that of other continental or British systems. The only case in which the Loi Fondamentale calls for an outgoing government to continue in a caretaker capacity is when the government resigns as a result of a parliamentary vote of no confidence. This is quite logical inasmuch as only the President, and not Parliament, can appoint a successor government, and since the President could not be expected to work with a government he has dismissed even in a caretaker capacity. The Loi Fondamentale does not provide for an outgoing government to be a caretaker government when the Chief of State dismisses a Cabinet or Prime Minister as he has authority to do, since he can also immediately appoint a successor government, both actions being provided for in Article 22. This President Kasavubu has done. Hence we regard Mr. Lumumba as legally dismissed as Prime Minister and Prime Minister Ileo and his Cabinet as constituting the de jure government of the Republic of the Congo. This is the case even though this government still has to be before Parliament for a formal vote of confidence in accordance with Article 22 of the Constitution. Article 22, of course, stipulates no time limit within which this must take place. Regardless of any views which may be held about subsequent steps in the Congo and any implications resulting from the creation of the College of Commissioners, it seems to us clear that the government of Prime Minister Lumumba has been legally dismissed and that neither he nor his former government has any current status under the law of the Republic of the Congo.

  • Secondly, the United States is seriously concerned also about your démarche to the Government of Belgium requesting it to withdraw all its personnel from the Congo and that it provide all assistance, including economic assistance, exclusively through the United Nations. Whatever might be the merits of providing that all assistance to the Congo—economic as well as military—should be undertaken through the United Nations, the General Assembly did not take this decision at its emergency session. There was even difficulty in assuring that in addition to military assistance, assistance which might be used for [Page 544] military purposes would be exclusively confined to the United Nations. We believe that recent events, including the Mobutu–Tshombe meeting, give evidence that Tshombe is prepared to cooperate within the framework of a unified Congo and is not pressing a secessionist line. Many members of his Cabinet are more extreme secessionists, however, so the alternative to Tshombe would probably be a good deal worse in terms of the Congo. For our part we will continue to work within the framework of a unified Congo. We also feel that the recent Berendsen–Tshombe agreement for the division of public security responsibility in the Katanga is a helpful step and would welcome further United Nations actions along these lines.

We do feel, however, that we must not risk the creation of an administrative and security vacuum in the Katanga which would only add immeasurably to the difficulties in the rest of the Congo. The United States could not support any action which would result in the extension to the Katanga of the instability which was experienced in the rest of the Republic of the Congo and we would urge that the United Nations not move precipitously.

With these concerns in mind we would appreciate your views on how many government technicians and paramilitary personnel you believe would be involved in a full withdrawal of all Belgian Government personnel from the Congo, and whether you would be in a position to replace them immediately so that a major exodus of private Europeans in the Katanga and the possibility of widespread lawlessness could be averted. It is our understanding that the number of personnel involved in the Katanga alone might be on the order of some 900 in the field of public administration, government technical services, and judiciary, as well as police and security forces. Without trained replacements such a withdrawal could well result in chaos.

In circumstances involving the withdrawal of Belgian technicians we wonder what steps the United Nations could take to guarantee the maintenance of public order, especially inasmuch as difficulty along these lines still prevails even in Leopoldville itself. It would also be helpful to know how much money would be involved in meeting the additional costs which would be incurred if all Belgian technicians were to leave, and how you would propose to meet these costs and what plans you may have for the training of Katanga personnel to replace the Belgians.

We are also seriously concerned about the political and practical results which might ensue if the authority of provincial leaders is broken down at the same time that political and pragmatic accommodations seem to be taking place with former Prime Minister Lumumba.

The United States appreciates the extreme pressures that you have been under and we fully understand the necessity for maintaining maximum support among African and Asian members of the [Page 545] United Nations. However, we also believe that the majority of African nations do not support Mr. Lumumba and the United States would be less than frank if it did not inform you that we feel the practical results of moving in the direction which now appears to be developing would mean the return of Mr. Lumumba to power, renewed demands by him for the United Nations to withdraw, and a renewal of Soviet intervention fraught with the possibility of a major international conflict. We are confident this is not what you desire—in fact you have expressed to us your own views that the United Nations cannot work with Lumumba—but we do not see how, from a practical point of view, the present situation can lead to anything other than bringing back the state of chaos which existed when the United Nations operation was launched. The information which the United States has indicates that the provincial leaders of the Congo—not only Tshombe—would resist to the greatest possible degree cooperation with any government in which Lumumba is associated and that such a government would not result in the maintenance of Congolese unity.

The actions of the United Nations in recent weeks have served to give the impression that the United Nations continues to regard Mr. Lumumba as Prime Minister of the Congo and to protect him as the Prime Minister, while failing to protect other members of Parliament and Cabinet officers of the government of Prime Minister Ileo or members of the College of Commissioners. Mr. Lumumba is protected by the United Nations in the residence and office of the Prime Minister and the United Nations has prevented warrants of arrest being presented on him, and it has refused to effect Mr. Lumumba’s removal from the Prime Minister’s residence. On the one hand the United Nations intervened to release from arrest Mr. Gizenga and Mr. Mpolo, and within the last day intervened to obtain the release of a number of supporters of Mr. Lumumba within hours after they were arrested, announcing, according to the information available to us, that the United Nations always intervenes in the case of “arbitrary arrests” and that they are doing so to prevent the establishment of a military dictatorship in the Congo.

On the other hand, officials who are opposed to Mr. Lumumba have been badly beaten by Lumumba supporters in the presence of United Nations troops who either refused to intervene entirely, in spite of requests for help, or did not intervene until after the beatings had taken place. We refer specifically to the beatings of Mr. Nussbaumer, Mr. Kandolo and Mr. Ndele.

If the views which you have recently expressed represent a basic change in your approach to the Congo problem, which we assume is not the case, the United States believes we should be informed of this, since it would require a fundamental reassessment of the situation on the part of the United States. For our part we can again assure you that [Page 546] the objectives of the United States have not changed. We want the United Nations effort in the Congo to be a success and we support it fully to that end. We want to keep the cold war entirely out of the Congo. We want to see the Congo remain free, independent, and united. We are confident that these continue to be your objectives also but we are much convinced that the specific actions which are now being taken will greatly complicate rather than facilitate the achievement of these results and may even lead to their total frustration.”

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 770G.00/10–2260. Secret; Limited Distribution.
  2. In telegram 1059, October 20, Wadsworth suggested that some advance preparation was necessary to make the démarche to Hammarskjöld productive. He requested authorization to give Hammarskjöld a written statement of U.S. views with the suggestion that they discuss it the next day. (Ibid., 770G.00/10–2060)
  3. See footnote 2, Document 244.