304. Telegram From the Embassy in the Congo to the Department of State1

816. On eve of departure for Elisabethville, McGhee, accompanied by Fredericks and Ambassador, talked two hours with Adoula and Bomboko. Following are highlights:

[1.] Trip to Katanga

Although Adoula had given approval to McGhee’s trip before his arrival he had in interval developed strong misgivings. He avoided an outright refusal but it was not until after McGhee interview and at 2000 hours October 2 that Adoula indicated his assent (ostensibly after having consulted his advisers).

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As he told Ambassador on October 1 and McGhee party on October 2, Adoula believed visit was bound to furnish Tshombe pretext to delay execution of plan pending consideration in Washington of whatever promises Tshombe made to McGhee. Adoula not convinced from our presentation that visit would not lead to further negotiations. Tshombe he said would surely take affirmative line with McGhee and it would be more difficult to determine whether plan was being applied. Adoula’s position is that if application of plan should be deferred or plan should fail his government would fall along with it and more radical elements would take his place. Bomboko echoed these objections adding we are giving Tshombe channel bypassing Embassy and UN.

McGhee made politely known to both Adoula and Bomboko that calling off trip out of question. President needed his report to help him maintain his Congo policy. He had come to Congo to make on-spot report and to express US determination see plan through. We were offering no plan but U Thant plan. We agreed Tshombe should not have opportunity for indefinite delay. We were in this together and Adoula and Bomboko must have confidence in US. We were not substituting ourselves for UN. Ambassador said he not bypassed.

If plan failed we were ready to consider severe measures with GOC. These were, however, matters to be discussed later among governments.

Adoula described to McGhee at considerable length opposition to his government as it existed in Parliament and predicted Parliament would oppose U Thant plan, Federal Constitution and “Balkanization of Congo”. If against this background U Thant plan was to prove illusory, fate of moderate government or indeed of any central executive power in Congo was sealed.

Adoula said, as he understood plan, if conciliation phase failed sanction phases were then to apply “automatically”; he “sensed” or “smelt” that situation at Elisabethville with respect to plan and the auspices for McGhee’s visit were all wrong.

2. Congolese political situation

Adoula explained present weakness of his government at much more length than he had at first meeting, at which other Congolese Ministers were present. He referred to cumulative effect of his government’s failure to resolve Katangese problem which made it possible for all sorts of disparate elements in Parliament to combine against him. He faced prospect, aggravated by possible failure of U Thant plan, of seeing Parliament ranged against executive branch government and possible disappearance of central authority in Congo. With creation of new provinces new rivalries were breaking out among them. Selfish interests, including some Belgians, were abetting rivalries.

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Parliamentarians were incredibly corrupt; Government had discovered massive new plot to create new secessionist Eastern state composed of parts of Orientale, Kivu and Katanga backed by 70 million francs from Tshombe. Much of this money had gone to Parliamentarians, and among other political figures, to Gbenye. Parliamentarians were so corrupt they expected payment for every vote. He was going to have to proceed against these people (he did not elaborate).

The gist of Adoula’s statement was that situation in Parliament and provinces was so bad that further deferral of settlement of Katanga would be last straw.

In his statement Bomboko added that if plan failed GOC would be considered traitor not only to Congo but to Africa. GOC had backed plan to hilt and worked for and acquired Casablanca and UAR support for it. If it should prove to be sellout, both country and continent would call for removal GOC.

Bomboko cited Soviet Bloc Embassies’ diplomacy calling for expulsion of UN. Soviet was saying “take our help and we will see Tshombe be arrested in 15 days”; Communists claimed colonialists merely trying to recolonize via UN.

3. Next steps

Both Adoula and Bomboko emphasized that U Thant plan was last effort at solution by negotiation and conciliation. Adoula told Ambassador that Mr. McGhee should be under no apprehension that if plan failed Congo would not attempt to use force.

To McGhee directly he said he was not sure he would pass through phase of economic sanctions. (Embassy has never gone into feasibility of sanctions with Adoula because this not considered compatible Department’s instructions.)

Bomboko said in two weeks GOC would have to take action; other secessions were being now prepared; a drowning man would grasp any plan.

GOC supported plan because they believed in it not because of US or UN. Friends should beware, however, of weakening GOC by making it agree to series of plans which only let secession continue.

McGhee made clear to both Adoula and Tshombe that they should not be thinking of force; that all other measures must be tried before-hand and that such measures were subject to prior consideration. Congo must show that it has exhausted every possible effort for peaceful settlement. He pointed out that military capacities of GOC were limited and military solution would be long and outcome uncertain.

Bomboko backtracked on threat of force to extent of saying what he really meant to demonstrate was need to build up ANC and UN force to [Page 603] such a degree that it would not have to be used, and in order to make sanctions in plan believable.

4. US direct military aid (?)

Both Adoula and Bomboko wanted to know what had become of Pentagon studies (Greene team recommendations) on retraining and build-up of Congo Army and asked when they would get report. Both were keenly interested in forthcoming shipment of military goods to ANC. Adoula stressed need to build up ANC and wanted US help in doing it. He dodged question on what country should do training, saying he could make better estimate when he had US report. Referred to his disappointment Italians had not replied to his request to take on Air Force training. Bomboko spoke more directly apparently by arrangement with Adoula. What he wants now is planning for direct military aid by US to Congo. He anticipates plan will fail and that those who take over in Congo will be turning to another source for aid. If we did not know this we were in for “great surprises”. He believes US should begin now to supply aid in order to preclude others from doing so. If we do not supply such aid, if U Thant plan fails, and if we let Tshombe get away with secession we will “have planted a Cuba in Central Africa”, meantime he sees aid as necessary to build-up effective ANC. He believes Tshombe and other secessionists will forego their plans only when they know that such a Congolese force exists.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 770G.00/10–462. Secret; Priority; Limited Distribution. Repeated to USUN, Paris, London, Brussels, Elisabethville, and Brazzaville.