126. Editorial Note

In telegram 5271 to the Central Intelligence Agency, November 26, 1962, the Station in Leopoldville reported that the opposition had submitted a no confidence motion to Chamber President Mwamba. He had so far refused officially to accept it, but as this position was illegal, both the [cryptonym not declassified] and the opposition believed he would be forced to accept it by November 27 at the latest. Joseph Mobutu, Victor Nendaka, and Minister of the Interior Kamitatu were highly pessimistic about the outcome of the crisis. Kamitatu estimated that the opposition [Page 179] should be able to obtain the votes needed to bring the government down. Katanga was widely believed to be the key issue.

Prime Minister Adoula took a slightly more optimistic view in a meeting with Ambassador Gullion and the Chief of Station, the telegram reported, but the Prime Minister expressed strong resentment over U.S. failure to provide sufficient aid earlier to resolve the Katanga crisis. Adoula indicated that last minute help might not do the trick but nevertheless gave the impression of a man intending to fight. He believed that President Kasavubu would agree to prorogue parliament for 30 days providing he was convinced strong action would be taken during the interim to resolve the Katanga problem. Tangible evidence of U.S. intentions was needed, Adoula stated. With Congolese National Army troops in North Katanga under constant attack by Government of Katanga aircraft, the Government of the Congo had an urgent need for aircraft to redress the balance of power. In concluding telegram 5271, the Station emphasized that Adoula was facing his most serious crisis to date, and there were “only days or perhaps hours in which to redress situation.” It was doubted that the [cryptonym not declassified] could pull the fat out of the fire without receiving hardware immediately, including aircraft and other tactical weapons. In any case, the Station planned to aid Adoula. (Central Intelligence Agency Files, Job 78–00435R, DDO/ISS Files, Box 1, Folder 12, [cryptonym not declassified] Operations)

Two days later, in telegram 5297, November 28, the Station reported that the Adoula government had escaped defeat but that its narrow escape—and the 47 votes in favor of the government—had not come easily. The Station had concentrated on the one objective of preventing the government’s fall ever since the crisis had come into the open on November 23; it doubted it could continue to hold the present line unless dramatic steps were taken immediately. (Ibid.)

In telegram 5346 to CIA, December 5, Leopoldville reported that although the government had squeaked through on November 28, the [cryptonym not declassified] and other government supporters remained greatly concerned by the possibility that the opposition, which now felt it had the government on the run, would continue to try to bring it down. The [cryptonym not declassified] appeared to be in a state of confusion regarding which steps to take. Ndele and Nendaka had contacted the Chief of Station to ask whether they could count on U.S. support should the government fall and they tried to maintain Adoula in power by means of a military coup. The Chief of Station replied he could not promise the necessary U.S. aid for a coup, since the U.S. position would depend on many things, including alternative leaders should the government fall, the Bloc position, and the policies followed by the government installed by a coup. (Ibid.)