249. Telegram From the Mission at the United Nations to the Department of State0
1096. For Secretary. Re Congo: Deptels 716, 727:1 Friday2 morning pursuant Department agreement, Wadsworth called SYG Hammarskjold to inform him he was sending him memorandum (for text see ourtel 1095,3 worked out with Department and based on reftels) about which Secretary had asked that he, Ambassador Bohlen and Barco see Hammarskjold. Appointment fixed for Friday afternoon following end of First Committee session. Bunche and Wieschhoff joined SYG for discussion with us.
1. Constitutional situation
Hammarskjold began by referring to US “aide-mémoire” (his term; we did not so entitle it) making comments on various parts of it. He prefaced this by denying that there had in any way been any change in his attitude, and insisting he had “certainly been under no pressure.” Questioning what was meant by “views recently expressed”, he concluded we had in mind his remarks of last Saturday.4 He first said he had not taken position indicated and then went into discussion of matter in exactly same terms as contained previous report (ourtel 1021).5 In addition to this exposition his views, which we [Page 547] will not here repeat he expressed “complete” disagreement with our legal analysis regarding constitutional situation, which had been complicated by attempts by Kasavubu to fire Lumumba, and Lumumba’s retaliation, in which Parliament had hand. Out of all this confusion however SYG took position Kasavubu did remain as head of state. But he said Kasavubu had dropped Ileo by having suspended Parliament and disavowed Ileo’s government. Hence Ileo could be disregarded. Given suspension of Parliament, sole unclouded authority in Congo, in Hammarskjold’s view, is that of Chief of State. “Yet whatever fragments of Prime Minister’s authority remain are, due largely to Kasavubu’s way of handling it, in Lumumba”, said SYG. He was “more PM” than anyone else. While UN could [not?] “deal with him as PM he could not at same time be disregarded completely. [”?]
Hammarskjold at another point in conversation expanded on his legal view of situation. He absolutely refused to accept theory that interpretation of Loi Fondamentale, in absence of any other indicated rule of interpretation, should be based on Belgian practice. As he put it, Belgians got Congolese to accept good deal of Belgian law in their Loi Fondamentale, “but there is no reason to think Belgians got them to accept their (Belgian) constitutional practice.”
In this way Hammarskjold refused to recognize our (and Belgian) arguments re difference in caretaker status under Belgian and other continental practices. Hammarskjold admitted he had said Kasavubu had acted legally in ending Lumumba’s mandate from Chief of State, but maintained legal effect of this action was “very controversial”. He went on to describe situation in this way: President had “withdrawn his part of confidence” in Lumumba, but Parliament’s part of confidence was not withdrawn. Hammarskjold then said they (UN) do not regard him as “legitimate” Prime Minister, since if they did, UN would be able to deal with him. Reason UN does not deal with Lumumba is that Kasavubu’s withdrawal of confidence in him has “to that extent” taken away his authority. It is this very fact of not dealing with Lumumba which has been cause of extended criticism of UN and SYG by those who insist Lumumba is still Prime Minister. (At another point it was mentioned UN does deal with Kasavubu within limits his authority, for instance writing letters to him.)
Hammarskjold pursued same line in arguing against point in memorandum regarding question of removing Lumumba from PM’s residence. Hammarskjold maintained there was no justification for such step; Wieschhoff reiterated argument present residence not real PM’s residence in usually understood sense, and no practical results would flow from removal. Bunche backed up Wieschhoff in describing this as impractical step. Hammarskjold said his policy “barred him from taking any action on basis Lumumba is not PM”. But on opposite side of coin, he never dealt with Lumumba as if he were PM in any [Page 548] formal sense, by any formal acts. Protection afforded is same as that for all other “political dignitaries” who have asked for it. “They also are entitled live in their own houses.”
Hammarskjold said UN must “keep clean on the record, wherever it may lead”. “What in past actions or behavior seemed to indicate an anti-Lumumba line by SYG now seemingly indicated opposite.” In fact there no change in UN’s line, he said; rather, change is in behavior of individuals involved. He added that had UN agreed to remove Lumumba from PM’s residence, assuming some justification could have been found, this action would have created “partial martyrdom” for Lumumba, which in turn would have strengthened hand of those in General Assembly who advocate pro-Lumumba move. By not so doing he felt that issue will peter out.
Hammarskjold also referred to question of warrant for arrest of Lumumba “as deputy” [sic] which on its face thereby invalid, since it was for “political” action. Such arrests clearly being used as form of political violence, he said. UN required respect “due process” of law, he said, and consequently refused act where obviously no due process.
2. Katanga and Belgium
Turning to that part of our memo re Katanga he said Katanga’s unity with rest of Congo is political, legal and economic necessity. If allowed to remain as separate identity it will mean cold war comes to central Africa. Problem for UN was how to get them back into picture while remaining aloof from interference in internal affairs. This could only be through diplomatic and political means. So long as Tshombe can turn to Belgium, he will not go along with cooperation with central government. In this Hammarskjold said he disagreed with some assertions in our memo but was not explicit. He said troop withdrawal had not been end of it so far as Belgians concerned. And while Tshombe is not on Belgian side he nevertheless hangs on to them, creating psychological factor against Tshombe’s turning for reliance to Leopoldville.
With regard to US concern at SYG’s démarche to Belgians, Hammarskjold said he has only asked of Belgians what US has already asked—namely that all aid come through UN. In measured tones Hammarskjold said Belgians had been anything but helpful in this matter. He referred to “special interests” working on behalf of Belgium, and spoke of “systematic return of Belgians to Leopoldville” under control of Commissioners. He hinted at collusion with regard to return of these Belgians, and mentioned “coup d’état arrangements” under cover of which “Belgian comeback” might be staged.[Page 549]
3. Other points in memo
Hammarskjold stated that release of Gizenga and Mpolo was decision of Mobutu himself and not UN. According his version, which came from “the command”, Mobutu’s soldiers arrested not only these two Lumumba supporters but also two pro-Mobutu men. When Mobutu came to see Dayal (complaining for some unknown reason to Dayal about it), he said he had had nothing to do with it and it was up to Mobutu to handle; whereupon latter decided only way to get his men back was to release all four individuals.
Hammarskjold said ANC is major risk in whole picture. There had recently been in “native quarter” of Leopoldville considerable amount looting, raping (of children according to Bunche) and general pillage at hands ANC, which Mobutu once controlled. Such activity apparently explains remarks attributed to Dayal in Friday Washington Post story calling ANC “rabble”. This disintegration of authority is another reason why SYG looks with less favor upon Mobutu. At this point Hammarskjold felt prompted to say UN cannot choose men, nor their inclinations, but rather must take objective stand. What is needed is constitutional authority including that of Parliament, giving some semblance of legitimacy to Congo Government. This would and should be case regardless whether such situation was proor anti-Lumumba.
SYG said two separate and opposite versions of story regarding Ndele existed. He did not elucidate upon them. According to Bunche Ndele owes his life to intervention by soldier(s) in UN Command.
According Hammarskjold there had been mistakes made. They were largely errors committed by Ghana forces, and apparently by individuals within them and not a part of some grand design. He said many steps taken correct these errors. He said two brigadiers with Ghana forces seemed all right but Welbeck (Ghana Chargé) and Djin were another story.
4. Subsequent discussion
In general discussion which followed, Bohlen led off by stating that it seemed apparent any re-assemblage of Parliament in near future out of question because of fear by parliamentarians from provinces what might happen to them. Everything pointed all too squarely to likely return to power, unless something done, of Lumumba. On authority from Washington Bohlen then said if Lumumba comes back into power, US Government does not propose to stand idly by and allow Congo become Communist satellite. In view of our strong support of UN and SYG up to now on Congo question, UN would have fully to weigh possible drastic revision of our policy. Bohlen also [Page 550] referred to other information our possession indicating things going on out there which indicate Russians have not given up hope of returning at all.
Bohlen also sought clarification from SYG or Bunche re nationality of soldiers in UN force in Leopoldville, many of whom had in one way or another cast doubt on their total loyalty to UN cause. Bunche said there were Sudanese troops at airport (and also small number UAR troops); in city there were Ghana and Moroccan troops.
After making absolutely clear US regarded present application SYG’s rule of impartiality as inevitably operating in favor of Lumumba, and of consequences this might have for US policy, Bohlen turned conversation on to positive line by saying “What is important is to figure out where we go from here”. This is endeavor in which US willing and anxious help out in any proper way. Anything to change present pattern of paralysis would be desirable. Bohlen informally suggested possibility, starting from fixed point that Kasavubu is Chief of State, that he be urged appoint caretaker government with perhaps Bomboko as PM and Mobutu in background possibly as Chief of Staff. It would be understood such government to be temporary, for interim only, pending reassembling of Parliament for purposes ratifying such government. Wieschhoff interjected at this point that this is what UN had been trying to do for three weeks without success.
Hammarskjold seemed to react favorably to idea moving on to some more constructive aspect of discussion. He said Parliament is one thing which can do anything in Congo. To have it meet there are two prerequisites: Security measures in Leopoldville; and presence of Katanga del. This latter depends on Tshombe’s views. (UN nowhere near so confident, from their reports of good outcome from Mobutu’s talks in Elisabethville.) Hammarskjold added that problem is not just in Leopoldville—it is in provinces as well. He despaired of abilities of leaders, saying each had missed every chance to do something effective. Bohlen’s idea might work if there were some way to get it done. To put such idea or any other into effect it was necessary to work through someone. There was no one on whom to rely. There was complete lack of effective personalities. He added without spelling it out that catalyst was also required which could not be third government.
In this connection Hammarskjold referred to good offices idea which came from res adopted by special emergency GA. If such group were not homogeneous it would fall apart and create more confusion. Hammarskjold inclined doubt one would be formed but in any event he said he could not prevent it since it would be subcom of his Advisory Committee, and decision to form such group would be [Page 551] theirs. His approach thus far, in hopes preventing this development, had been “socratic”; he had asked questions designed to frighten them away from taking such step, so far with some success.
Although Hammarskjold never gave concrete answer on possibility of caretaker govt along lines suggested by Bohlen, he did say such group could not ignore Lumumba. And he also noted that UN could not be sure in any dealings it might have with such govt that these were any more than on de facto basis.
Referring to impasse into which UN’s policy appeared to have led it, Hammarskjold indicated that one way out of such difficulty lay in possibility UNGA taking stand on particular issue. This would make it possible for execution of policy (by SYG) to be lifted out of impasse. He felt UNGA’s inaction re seating rep of Congo made his impartial behavior as between different govt’l figures absolutely consistent with overall UN stand. Way to change it, he appeared to hint, would be by GA decision.
Turning to question of Belgians (and Katanga), Hammarskjold referred to new note he sent,6 which explained more clearly basis of his stand regarding withdrawal of technicians and other. (For text see ourtel 1098)7
He described his policy as “two-pronged” approach. To restore authority to Leopoldville, and thereafter to all Congo; also to bring Katanga into central picture. He said he felt he had to try to switch Tshombe’s allegiance and dependence away from Belgians and on to UN. Now Tshombe was not just dependent on Belgians, he was “overfed” by them. He had said he only needed 50 technicians and Belgians had provided 100. Such matters retain Belgian hold over Tshombe. Different Belgian attitude could have made all difference in handling. Instead they appeared be hanging on at all costs.
To Bohlen’s query whether if Belgian technicians were put under UN, situation would be better, Hammarskjold several times avoided specific answer. Finally he admitted this would be better, and he said for individual Belgians to be under UN control in Congo as whole would not be excluded by his policy. Those who must go were, as pointed out in his earlier note, Belgians directly or indirectly under Belgian Govt control. This he interpreted as “govt-sponsored Belgians, who were paid directly or indirectly by Belgian Govt. Wieschhoff cited as example way in which indirect payment comes about, system where Belgian Govt gives subsidy to Katanga govt which in turn from that subsidy pays for services of Belgian “technicians”.[Page 552]
Hammarskjold admitted this could become difficult line to draw. He said it must be calculated against alternative, retention of Belgian control which could be very dangerous. Existence of such “curious in-between arrangements” required that SYG “clean things up”. At this point he digressed as if by illustration to refer to troops in southern Kasai province, which were Belgian-officered troops working for Kalonji. It was argued these officers had been “seconded” from “Katanga” army and so were still not Belgians. Hammarskjold said “simple fact is there is Belgian element of control”. He referred as illustration to threat posed to Tshombe before UN forces entered Katanga: Union Miniere said they would close down all mines, putting 20,000 people out of work if Tshombe let UN forces enter. Hammarskjold had advised Tshombe not to bend under this pressure but to say he would in such circumstances turn to UN for necessary technicians. Hammarskjold felt this was typical instance of Belgian control.
In conclusion, meeting having to break off by SYG’s subsequent appointment, SYG agreed reality was what took place in area, and not within GA—that latter was largely reflection of reality. However he insisted GA could have influence on what happened in real world of Leopoldville. Bohlen, as parting remark, summarized that net effect of situation would seem to be that instead of keeping cold war out of Congo, situation had developed into one-sided cold war. Only US had stayed out. Soviets surely had not, nor was it anything more than naive to think they would stay out.
Begin Bohlen comment: While we left no doubt as to seriousness with which we view situation in Congo and UN attitude towards it, foregoing account of 2-hour conversation nevertheless demonstrates inconclusive results insofar as any direct expression of future policy by Hammarskjold was concerned. Our strongest impression is that he sees no clear course of action in Leopoldville to deal with the present situation and has fallen back on a completely do nothing “impartiality”, although he realizes that this may be working in Lumumba’s favor. Although he did not commit himself, he seemed interested in idea we put forth of having some semblance of a caretaker government to be set up by Kasavubu as an interim authority until such time as conditions would permit an orderly convening of Parliament.
Hammarskjold, however, refused, as will be noted, to make any commitment as to UN attitude towards any such caretaker government because of constitutional problem involving Lumumba. However, I believe if we could produce some coherent plan to bring about establishment by Kasavubu of a caretaker government, with possibly Bomboko as Prime Minister and Mobutu as chief military authority subordinate to it, we would have basis for further discussion with Hammarskjold.[Page 553]
As to letters to Belgium regarding Belgian technicians, we believe that being unable to see clearly what can be done in regard to action in Congo, he is taking this attitude in order to do something and in particular to gain favor with African states. He spoke vaguely of necessity for consultation as to disposition of these technicians and we believe this matter should also be pursued further with him. Since [Although?] it is our impression that he can still be influenced in more moderate action than his letters would imply, we see, however, very little real hope in changing Hammarskjold’s present attitude unless serious and constructive alternative in regard to caretaker government can be worked out and discussed with him. Such govt to have any chance of succeeding, should have different UN troops present in Leopoldville. Proposals to this effect might usefully be made to SYG at subsequent meeting with SYG which he himself suggested be held soon. End Bohlen comment.
Bohlen’s reiteration at several different points in our conversation that present position of UN in Leo worked in favor of Lumumba and could in our view only lead to his return to power with serious consequences, even failure, for UN and SYG himself, certainly seemed to have shaken SYG. He said he agreed with our negative analysis, but did not seem have definite ideas where to go next. At the least we feel he will be more receptive in future discussion to specific proposals (a) for dealing with caretaker govt if one can be devised, (b) shifting UN troops, and, if these two factors dealt with, (c) more stringent action re Lumumba.
While we did not refer specifically to role being played by Dayal (we showed SYG Friday press reports on Dayal’s attitude toward Mobutu) we continue to feel this is also major factor in situation which SYG refused to face. Bohlen alluded at different points in conversation to pressures from UAR, Ghana, Guinea and Morocco, which SYG admitted. We inferred from SYG’s reaction, however, that he did not seem to feel this affected Dayal’s behavior. It seems to us at very least important reduce as much as possible pressures on Dayal by shifting UN forces, and if possible try to find way either having Dayal replaced, or neutralized by addition of another UN official in Leo.
(For report of UKDel conversation with SYG on same subject see next fol tel.)8
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 770G.00/10–2260. Secret; Niact; Limit Distribution.↩
- See Document 246 and footnote 6 thereto.↩
- October 21.↩
- Document 248.↩
- October 15.↩
- Document 243.↩
- A note verbale to Loridan, October 19; for text, see U.N. doc. S/4557, Part B, or Public Papers of the Secretaries-General, vol. V, pp. 215–217.↩
- Not printed. (Department of State, Central Files, 343.170G/10–2260)↩
- Telegram 1097 from USUN, October 22, reported that Hammarskjöld stressed the need of reassembling Parliament and bringing about a reconciliation of Tshombe with the central government. (Ibid., 770G.00/10–2260) Barco summarized the Bohlen-Hammarskjöld meeting in a telephone conversation with Herter at 10:25 a.m. on October 22. According to a memorandum of the conversation by Mildred Asbjornson, Barco said “they all felt that Hammarskjold does not have an idea on how to improve the situation, but that Hammarskjold was thinking more about the problem than he had before.” (Eisenhower Library, Herter Papers, Telephone Conversations) Telegram 1137 from USUN, October 26, reported that both Wieschhoff and Bunche had commented critically on the U.S. approach, but Wadsworth concluded that “despite what they apparently regarded as an affront in presentation of U.S. point of view, it did have some impact.” (Department of State, Central Files, 770G.00/10–2660)↩