101. Telegram From the Station in the Congo to the Central Intelligence Agency1

2501 (In 28695).

1. Since returning from HQS [COS] struck by apparent nearness of chaos and failure in Congo. The situation is not the result of one or more specific events. Rather there has been a general decline in moderates’ position, a decline which has sharply increased in recent weeks. The Adoula govt is in a precarious position as it faces problems with which it does not appear able to cope and to which inadequate solutions have been addressed by the UNOC. Although it would be premature to predict the govt will fall if help not provided rapidly, Leop believes it entirely possible govt will fall or come under control of extremist elements hostile to ODYOKE if overt action is not taken soon to shore up Adoula’s position.

2. Leop recognizes KUBARK is not directly involved, and should not become involved, in formation of policy. Thus, this message is merely for the background use of senior KUBARKers in discussions with ODACID. It represents Station views and was prepared solely on [COS’s] responsibility. It has not been submitted to, nor received approval of, [Embassy] or the country team. In the absence of [Ambassador Gullion], Station doubts deputy chief [Embassy] would approve such a message. (Thus if info and suggestions reported herein are used, [Page 133] request HQS not indicate origin.) However, Leop believes urgent consideration must be given to new approaches to the Congo problem as considerable risks are entailed in our present policy. Suggestions and comments herein are not intended as a definitive review of Congolese problems or an overall solution. The serious political situation does not permit the time required to conduct detailed studies, and assets to conduct such studies are not available to Leop. However, if HQS concurs with Station views that immediate action is required, this message will provide suggestions for overt stopgap measures designed to reverse, or delay, the current trend.

3. Prior to independence it was recognized that considerable foreign aid would be required to assist an independent Congo. However, the CNA mutiny in July 60 caused ODYOKE and other Western powers to transfer their hopes to an international solution in the form of UN action. This decision restricted ODYOKE overt efforts in the Congo to the provision of guidance by [Embassy] and a severely limited aid program, thus removing the economic, technical and military programs which might have been used as levers to implement ODYOKE policy in the Congo. With the exception of the PL 480 agreement signed 18 Nov 61, the only unilateral ODYOKE program in the Congo available for political action purposes was (and is) the KUBARK covert action program. In the light of what might have occurred had this weapon not been available, the KUBARK program has been relatively successful. KUBARK can take major credit for the fall of the Lumumba govt, the success of the Mobutu coup and considerable credit for Adoula’s nomination as premier. Also, it has achieved a number of other less spectacular but nonetheless important political objectives. Had ODYOKE been able to exploit these openings overtly by means of military, technical or economic aid programs or had the UNOC met its responsibilities effectively, ODYOKE policy in the Congo would not now be hanging in the balance. However, ODYOKE was not able to assist overtly persons and govts favorably disposed toward PBPRIME and the UNOC failed to fill the void. Unfortunately, the KUBARK action program has not and realistically could never have been expected to be a substitute for a strong and effective govt, nor could it provide the guidance and aid necessary to shore up the GOC, retrain the CNA and revitalize the economy. Thus, the GOC, assisted by the UNOC, has limped along with only partial and inefficient approaches to the enormous problems which it faces.

4. The problems of the Adoula govt are the same difficulties which have plagued the Congo since independence: lack of discipline within the army, massive unemployment, absence of civic spirit coupled with tribal rivalries, lack of leadership at all levels and lack of preparation for self govt. Although problems facing the GOC are innumerable, the following major problems now hold the key to the future of the Congo.

[Page 134]

A. The army: The July 60 CNA mutiny which led to the UN Congo operation has never been fully contained, as demonstrated by the Jan 61 mutiny in Thysville, the incidents at Kindu, Albertville, Luluabourg, Port Franqui and innumerable lawless acts of troops throughout the Congo, particularly in Orientale and the Kivu. While a part of the CNA provided much needed support for the moderates, helped bring down Lumumba and contributed to maintaining the moderates in power, the CNA has remained a problem as well as a support weapon for the moderates. Instead of becoming a strong force for the preservation of law and order, the army has been divided into factions temporarily loyal to its various paymasters (Mobutu and other moderates, the extremists in Kivu and Orientale and Tshombe). It has taken the law into its own hands, arbitrarily arresting Congolese and foreigners, robbing banks and looting. Its untrained officers are not qualified for command or staff positions and have only a minimum of control over their undisciplined troops. In short the CNA is little more than an armed mob. However, with the exception of a small-scale paratroop training program which lasted only about two months (42 CNA troopers made a training jump) the UNOC has done nothing to meet the key problem of training and reorganizing the CNA. As the result of Mobutu’s efforts, the majority of troops in the area responsive to Leopoldville have supported the moderates and this has been a major political lever in maintaining the moderates in power since Sept 60. However, because of its lack of discipline and leadership, the CNA has not provided the support which it might have done if properly organized and trained. Also the danger of the extremists gaining control over the army and using it to gain power remains a potential danger. Finally the fact the army is not under control and must constantly be placated has resulted in large expenditure for the CNA (about half the national budget).

B. Administrative breakdown: Considerable responsibility for the failure to date of all Congolese govts results from the breakdown of the administrative machinery. Few if any GOC leaders have sufficient admin ability to carry out govt decisions in an efficient manner. Thus the govt machine works only at a small percentage of its potential efficiency. UNOC has tried to resolve this problem by assigning technical specialists to various ministries but there are not enough and many are not first-rate types.

C. Unemployment: With the departure of many white employers after the July mutiny and the gradual breakdown in govt, the unemployment problem became massive. (No overall unemployment statistics are now available for the Congo. May 61 statistics for Leop showed 52 percent of the male labor force unemployed. [Embassy] believes figures are even higher in provincial cities.) The GOC has done little to cope with this problem and UNOC efforts in conjunction with [Page 135] the GOC have been limited. As of 31 July 61 (last date for which statistics available to [Embassy], about 160 million BCF had been made available by UNOC for work relief program. (Bulk of financing came from counterpart value from sale of American food supplies.) Of total sum available, 142 million BCF had been allocated for projects throughout the Congo. Thus less than 1 and one half million dollars (at parallel market rate) was allocated for purpose of relief works program by the UNOC during its first year in the Congo. As result of confusion in public finances, detailed info re unilateral GOC expenditures for public works are not available. However, [Embassy] believes such expenditures were minimal. A new joint UNOCGOC program is now being developed. However, only 4 UNOC officers have been assigned to the program. Even if a program of sufficient magnitude evolves to reduce appreciably the number of unemployed, Leop doubts the UNOC will be able provide sufficient qualified administrators and technicians to carry out the program as there are only 450 persons employed by UNOC civil affairs division, including doctors, educators, etc. However, if implementation is left to the GOC, its lack of qualified administrators will greatly limit effectiveness of the program, if indeed it does not fail altogether. In summation, Leop believes the UNOC has failed to provide a solution or even a partial solution to the unemployment problem, a question with tremendous political as well as economic implications. Also, view quantity and quality of tech advisors available to UNOC, Leop doubts UNOC will be able mount an adequate and efficient program.

D. Katanga: Although important from an economic viewpoint, the GOC desire to reintegrate the Katanga into the Congo has become critical from a political viewpoint. The abortive Sept UNOC operation merely succeeded in spotlighting the problem, thus greatly increasing pressures on the Adoula govt (from moderates as well as extremists) to find a solution at any cost. Adoula was forced to send the CNA into Katanga to prevent his govt from falling. The CNA operation failed miserably, further increasing pressures on the govt. The Katanga problem has thus become an emotion charged weapon in the hands of the extremists with which to attack the govt. It could easily bring about the fall of the govt. At present the GOC has reached an impasse. It doubts anything useful will come from negotiations with Tshombe. Adoula feels he cannot go abroad to meet Tshombe, as he doubts Tshombe’s sincerity in offering to negotiate and believes his govt would fall if he undertook such negotiations and failed. (The extremists would almost certainly claim that Adoula had sold out to Tshombe.) Also, the failure of the CNA Katanga operation has convinced the GOC that it cannot, without help, resolve the problem by force. As a result, Adoula is desperately casting about for some solution or stop gap measure. Numerous GOC leaders, including [Identity 1], [Identity 2] and [Mobutu] [Page 136] and [Identity 3] have requested ODYOKE to provide GOC with planes. GOC has also sent a mission abroad to purchase aircraft. They believe GOC planes would raise the morale of their followers and, at least temporarily, serve as “proof” that the GOC is taking positive action to resolve the Katanga problem. To date Adoula has rejected Soviet offers of planes, arms and other aid (see Leop 2452) [less than 1 line not declassified]2 but he may soon be faced with a choice of his govt falling or accepting Soviet aid to relieve political pressures. In such a case, Leop believes it entirely possible Adoula might, against his better judgment, accept the proferred aid, particularly as his govt would almost certainly be replaced by extremists. At present the GOC is waiting hopefully for someone to get it off the spot. It hopes the UNOC will use force once again and that this time it will be successful in resolving the Katanga question. Also, Adoula hopes Balubakat and ANC pressure in north Katanga will put sufficient pressure on Tshombe to bring him back into the Congo fold. However, as it doubtful action in the north Katanga will result in such a solution sufficiently soon, the GOC now appears to face the following alternatives: it must obtain strong UNOC assistance or it must accept bilateral aid. If the UNOC is unable to resolve the Katanga question and if Adoula continues to refuse bilateral Soviet aid offers, he will become a sitting political duck. In such a case it is probable his govt would fall (or at the very least be greatly weakened and fall under the influence of the extremists). The resolution of the Katanga problem or early positive steps which point toward its eventual resolution are hurdles which Adoula must cross if he is to remain in power. The 24 Nov Security Council resolution3 should provide Adoula with respite but if the UNOC fails to solve the problem in the near future, extremist pressures will be even greater.

E. Gizengist activities: Although no longer as strong as when he headed the Stan regime and claimed to be the legal chief of govt, Gizenga remains a threat. Although probably not a communist, he received bloc and Belgian CP support in the past and it is probable bloc elements will help him once again if they do not succeed in their efforts to take over or infiltrate the GOC. They could thus create another secessionist govt or by supporting him they could contribute to Congo chaos, thus weakening the GOC and preparing the way for an eventual [Page 137] compromise govt which would be more favorable to the bloc. As of now Orientale is in a complete state of anarchy with both govt and business at a standstill. Considerable economic assistance and, possibly, force may be required to resolve this situation. If such help is not forthcoming from the UNOC or other outside sources, it is doubtful the GOC will be able to solve the problem alone. Gizenga and his active supporters remain a sore in the side of the GOC and by their vocal opposition and criticism exercise an influence out of proportion to their actual strength. Through their constant criticism they keep the Adoula govt on the defensive and most concessions made to them tend to water down salutary govt programs and actions. If it were not for Katanga and the danger of bloc aid to Gizenga, the latter would not now pose as serious a threat to the govt as is now the case. However, he will remain a serious threat until the Katanga problem is resolved and until the GOC develops a more dynamic program.

F. Political frictions within the GOC: although Adoula received a near unanimous vote of approval at Lovanium, numerous factions exist within the govt. The leaders from Stan and their extremist supporters from other areas remain a constant threat to the govt. The Katanga situation is a political lever in their hands. The extremists tend to neutralize the more conservative elements in the govt. As a result most govt actions are based on compromise or the least common denominator. At present extremist elements are divided by a struggle for power. Interior Minister Gbenye and Chamber President Kasongo are fighting for control of the MNC/Lumumba Party and there is friction between the PSA (Gizenga’s party) and the MNC over the creation of a new Unified Nationalist Party (Panalu). Both groups want to control the new party, if and when it is formed. Despite current difficulties of the extremists or so-called “nationalists,” they represent a strong force in the country and if they succeed in unifying their efforts under one leader they could become the strongest political force in parliament. At present Adoula is forced to depend upon a loose coalition. The moderates have no effective political structure and have continued in power only because the extremists are divided and are not yet ready to make a bid for power. However, should Adoula or the UNOC fail to solve the Katanga problem, this would provide the extreme nationalists with an opening and a govt less friendly to ODYOKE interests than that of Adoula could easily ride to victory. But if the Katanga problem is resolved satisfactorily, the [cryptonym not declassified] program outlined in [less than 1 line not declassified] should provide the moderates with a reasonable chance of success.

5. By the foregoing Leop has endeavored to outline several major problems which are threatening the continued existence of a moderate govt in the Congo. We recognize most of these facts and views have [Page 138] been submitted piecemeal by the Station and [Embassy]. However in view of what appears to be a rapid worsening of the moderates position, the Station feels it incumbent to sum up the situation and to point out that the current ODYOKE policy in the Congo could easily fail. Although we recognize our Congo policy is only one part of a complicated puzzle, we suggest urgent consideration be given to a review of our present policy and a study of alternative steps. In Leop 1748 [less than 1 line not declassified]4 dated 29 July [August 1] the Station estimated a moderate govt would have a three to six months period of grace in which to solidify its position. Adoula has been in office for nearly four months and the period of grace is running out. (On 21 Nov [Identity 4] opined that Adoula has at the very most three months in which to take steps leading to the resolution of the Katanga situation and major economic problems facing the govt. Other [cryptonym not declassified]5 have been less specific in their comments but it is clear the group close to Adoula is frightened, pessimistic and believes only outside help can save the present govt.

6. On the basis of VOA broadcasts of UN debates it appears ODYOKE efforts to assist the moderates by means of strengthened UN action have partially failed. (Leop does not have full details on outcome debate as VOA broadcast faded out at the critical moment.) In view of the fact ODYOKE efforts have been blocked by the Soviets, Leop suggests HQS consider recommending to ODACID that ODYOKE provide aid to the Congo on a unilateral basis, or together with one or more friendly powers. We realize any policy which would result in the withdrawal of all ODYOKE support for the UNOC would not be acceptable but a middle course appears possible. A precedent for bilateral aid agreements has already been set by the signing of the PL 480 agreement.

7. The Station understands that the current ODYOKE policy of working only through the UNOC was based on the following considerations:

A. To interdict the Congo to the Soviets and to try to avoid exporting the cold war struggle to the Congo.

B. To try to avoid ruffling the neutral feathers of the Afro-Asian Bloc.

The reasoning which appeared to justify this ODYOKE policy decision when it was first adopted in July 60 no longer appears valid, we have not interdicted the Congo to the Soviets as witnessed by the Soviet [Page 139] offer to provide arms and other aid on a unilateral basis. Although the cold war in the Congo has not reached the same levels as in Asia, we believe this to be a result more of Soviet difficulties in launching a program in the Congo (great distance from Soviet Union, fact Soviets were expelled from the Congo and were absent for nearly one year, the reservoir of good will toward PBPRIME which existed in the Congo, the not altogether fortuitous actions of [Mobutu], etc) than to the fact that ODYOKE abdicated its right to intervene on a unilateral basis. As for the second motive (the sensitivities of the Afro-Asians), Leop recognizes any step by ODYOKE to provide unilateral aid would almost certainly ruffle the neutralists. However the precedent has been set by the PL 480 agreement and it appears probable a sharp break with the neutralists could be avoided if ODYOKE continued its general support for the UNOC while instituting certain bilateral programs parallel and complementary to the UNOC effort. In any case we may be faced with a choice of accepting bad publicity among the Afro-Asians or seeing the Congo swing into the camp of anti-Western powers, possibly falling under the influence of the bloc. We believe overt unilateral assistance could be limited to the fields of military assistance and public works.

8. Most responsible moderate leaders recognize an early solution must be found to the CNA problem. This view is shared by [Identity 1], [Identity 2], and [Mobutu], [Identity 5], and [Identity 3], and [Identity 4] and many others. They wish to remove the CNA sword of Damocles which hangs over them. Whether Adoula would now be prepared to request such assistance if it were not to come through UNOC channels is a question which the Station cannot now answer. However if the political situation continues to deteriorate, we suspect he could be convinced to make such a request. [Identity 4] and [Mobutu] have already put out feelers to [COS] to determine whether ODYOKE alone or in conjunction with other friendly govts would be willing to take the following steps:

A. Provide training outside the Congo for selected CNA officers. (Few if any CNA officers are adequately trained for their present position. The troops recognize the lack of capacity of the officers. This partially explains the mutinous conduct of the troops and the miserable showing of the CNA over the past 16 months.)

B. Provide military technicians qualified to give on-the-job training to officers and men who could not be sent abroad. For example, the commander of the paracommando battalion and the troops at Thysville, the only halfway loyal elements available to the govt in the Leopoldville area, could not be spared for training abroad.

C. Assist the CNA to weed out troublesome and incompetent elements and to train new troops. (Leop doubts it will be possible to do anything with the CNA as now constituted. One solution might be to [Page 140] call up new recruits and train two or more battalions in a training area far from the influence of the present mutinous troops. Once trained the new battalions could replace troops which it would be advisable to eliminate from the CNA. In this fashion it would eventually be possible to create a wholly new army retaining only those officers and men who possess the necessary qualifications and training. In this respect HQS should know [Identity 1] told [COS] on 16 and 26 Nov that he eventually hopes to discharge the great majority of present CNA members and that he counts upon PBPRIME aid to resettle them in the provinces.

D. Provide military equipment to replace matériel which has fallen into disrepair or been destroyed over the past year. (Much CNA equipment is no longer usable because the Congolese through lack of competence or discipline have failed to maintain it properly.)

9. In the field of public works ODYOKE might provide additional administrators and technicians (either on bilateral basis or working through the UN) to supplement those now available to the UNOC. There do not appear to be enough UNOC personnel to handle a large public works program and there are few if any Congolese capable of administering such an effort. Also, it may eventually be necessary to provide additional funds (possibly through PL 480 channels) if the serious unemployment problem is to be resolved.

10. In summation, Leop believes the Adoula govt is in serious difficulty and could fall within the next one to three months unless immediate and effective steps are taken to resolve at least one or more of the major problems in the Congo. While Leop recognizes ODYOKE would have little chance of getting the military aid or public works programs suggested herein off the ground in such a short time, the announcement of such plans might serve to extend Adoula’s period of grace. Adoula could claim to be taking positive steps which would give hope to the unemployed and which might convince the population that the govt would eventually be able to solve the Katanga problem on its own initiative. While on the basis of the 24 Nov resolution the UNOC may resolve the Katanga problem, Leop is not sanguine. The UNOC does not now have sufficient troops in the Congo to launch a military operation in the Katanga and concurrently insure the maintenance of law and order elsewhere in the Congo. Thus, it would appear advisable to take steps ASAP to implement alternative action should the UNOC fail or should it appear that its action would come too late. In any case a disciplined and trained army under the control of the moderates would provide them with the force of law and order and with a force which would permit them to resist extremist pressures and/or action against the govt.

11. Leop requests HQS indulgence for overstepping the limits of its responsibilities by suggesting policy changes in the Congo. However it [Page 141] wishes to emphasize the urgency which it attaches to the need for taking overt steps to meet the current problem, if ODYOKE policy objectives are to be achieved. (Such steps cannot be taken by covert means by the Station as now constituted.) We do not wish to imply that all is lost but we wish to alert HQS to the fact that the situation in the Congo could and may well go against us. Thus we are forwarding our comments and suggestions for the background use of [Bissell] and [Tweedy].

End of message.

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency Files, Job 78–00435R, DDO/ISS Files, Box 1, Folder 8, [cryptonym not declassified] Operations. Secret; Rybat; Priority. Bissell and Tweedy from COS. Received at 0159Z.
  2. Not found.
  3. On November 24, the Security Council passed a resolution completely rejecting the claim that Katanga was “a sovereign independent nation;” deploring Katanga’s secessionist activities and armed action against the United Nations; authorizing vigorous action, including the “requisite measure of force, if necessary,” to secure the immediate withdrawal of all mercenaries and all foreign military and paramilitary personnel and political advisers not under U.N. command; and recognizing the Government of the Congo as exclusively responsible for the conduct of its external affairs. For text, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1961, pp. 851–852.
  4. This telegram is printed as Document 91.
  5. The moderate, pro-Western leaders in the Congo supported by a CIA political action program.