195. Telegram From the Embassy in the Congo to the Department of State1
1896. Gizenga: Last night Gizenga was removed from a house in “fashionable” residential section where he had spent one night to confinement in the para-commando camp. Instructions were given to Nendaka [Page 369] by Adoula that “no harm was to come to Gizenga” and that no one was to see him “who might cause trouble.”
Meanwhile the circumstances of Gizenga’s arrival by UN aircraft, the solicitousness of the UN for him, the relatively relaxed greeting at airport, and the installation of the accused in a comfortable villa had understandably confused foreign observers and press.
I therefore pressed Adoula this morning concerning Gizenga’s status. As I entered, Gbenye was leaving and Adoula was saying to him that he should “have the papers signed by three o’clock.” I asked Adoula if this was the awaited “order for incarceration” of Gizenga.
Adoula said no, that Gizenga was being placed in protective custody, that he was bringing Gbenye “into the camp,” that Gizenga would be held incommunicado except to his lawyers, and that a dossier was being prepared against him.
I again expressed misgivings at delays and asked whether Parliament would be prepared to lift Gizenga’s immunity and whether the government had any desire to prevent Gizenga’s coming to trial. Adoula said it was rather a question of restraining the Parliament and he was fully confident that any measure decided upon would be followed up. He then referred to “legal complications” claiming that Gizenga could only be tried by the Cours de Cassation for acts committed while he was Minister but this trial court had never been set up. There has been some suggestion of modifying the “Loi Fondamentale” to provide the necessary tribunal but the idea was rejected. Adoula also confirmed that if the indictment were rebellion then Gizenga might be court martialed.
Adoula then indicated that the real problem on lifting Gizenga’s immunity was not any tender feeling in Parliament toward him but rather the Pandora’s box which would be thus opened. There were adequate grounds to follow the same procedure with respect to dozens of others in Parliament (some of whom I gathered would be Adoula supporters). He said confidentially that he preferred to pick off his enemies one by one.
I told Adoula that I understood the dilemma between a martyr’s halo for Gizenga on one hand and the necessity for eliminating his power once and for all and upholding the authority of the central government. The essential thing it seemed to me was that Adoula’s signal victory over Gizenga should not be frittered away. Could he assure me that Gizenga was and would continue to be excluded from public life and would be punished; Adoula said there was no question about this.
Comment: Adoula really has not made up his mind how to dispose of Gizenga and indefinite protective custody may be his way of buying time for consideration. He is correct I believe in his assessment of the [Page 370] chaos which would ensue if Parliament degenerated into vendettas in which everyone tried to lift each other’s immunities.
It also probable that Adoula is determined to continue to adhere to legal forms as he has done up to now. Yet a long Lumumba-like captivity presents obvious dangers. One reassuring factor is Adoula’s continuous confidence that he has both Gizenga and his erstwhile followers under control or effectively neutralized. It is probable that no decision on disposition of Gizenga case will be taken prior to formation of new government.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 770G.00/1–2562. Secret. Repeated to USUN, Brussels, Paris, and London.↩