145. Dispatch From the Chief of the Africa Division, Directorate of Plans, Central Intelligence Agency (Tweedy) to the Station in Leopoldville1

[dispatch number not declassified]


  • Political Action in the Congo

Reference: DIR 36265.2

1. This dispatch is meant not so much to enlighten the field as to the political realities of the Congo as to clarify our own thinking and commit some specific thoughts to paper. We hope that you will read it thoughtfully, discuss it with appropriate [Embassy] personnel, and comment upon it both substantively and in context of the operational problems it raises. Because of its sensitivity, we are not sending copies to either of the Bases, but hope you will discuss it with Base personnel at first opportunity.

2. With each succeeding political crisis, the Adoula Government has had increasing difficulty in maintaining itself, even with substantial outside help. One result has been that Adoula, to maintain his personal position, has been forced to make compromises with various opposition members at the cost of his partially alienating and breaking the cohesion of the [less than 1 line not declassified]. On some occasions he has consulted the Group and rejected their advice, on others he has not consulted them. Further, Adoula has shown no particular aptitude for using compromises to strengthen his position. He talks with the full spectrum of political leaders, excluding the extreme nationalists, and makes or implies numerous and contradictory commitments, many of which he cannot fulfill. The result is that he displeases as many as he pleases and his net gains, if any, are not significant.

4. In our talks with the [cryptonym not declassified], as well as by policy authorization, we are committed to support the [cryptonym not declassified] effort(s) to organize a national political party and must therefore make at least a gesture to follow through, not only because of our commitments but also as a matter of prudence in hedging bets. [Page 204] However, the various forces in process of coalescence in the post-secessionist era give strong indications that an Adoula Government will probably be challenged with increasing success as time goes on; it behooves KUBARK to extend its range of contacts and to extend political action aid to most individuals and groups whose capability, actual or potential, to challenge Adoula successfully make them potential future allies. Our objective is not to perpetuate the Adoula regime indefinitely, but to insure in the Congo a moderate, friendly government capable of getting the Congo moving along the road back. The ultimate purpose is to deny the Congo to the Bloc.

5. In considering the political forces in being or in formation in the Congo, we should identify and give consideration to non-political organizations which can exercise a palpable to decisive influence in politics. These include: the ANC, the Sûreté, the labor unions. They also include foreign governments, UMHK and other large, primarily Belgian, industrial and commercial interests, plus the UNOC and the many individuals therein who are willing and able to intervene in Congolese politics.

6. Among the parties whose actual and potential position should be reviewed are: the Abako, representing the Bakongo tribe exclusively; the Conakat, which traditionally represents the most powerful tribes of Katanga except for the Balubas; the Balubakat, representing the Baluba tribes of Katanga; the Baluba-Kasai; the MNC/L, whose strength is largely regional at this point (Orientale and parts of Kivu) and which is substantially the only identifiable organization left of the original MNC; and the PSA. Other parties either represent smaller tribal groups, are largely the feeble instruments of individuals, or are small but potentially powerful extremists; these include the Puna, Unimo, Reko, Cerka and Kapwasa’s nascent party in Katanga.

6. The Traditional Chiefs Organization (TCO) in the Senate is of particular interest. It is the only known political organization which cuts across political lines, and the only one which forms a nucleus for political discussion and decision by important tribal leaders as such. It is assumed that tribalism will be an important if not decisive factor in Congo politics for the foreseeable future.

7. In our thinking, the important facts are whether individuals or groups are pro-West, pro-Bloc or “neutralist”; whether “moderate” or “radical.” In many cases, it is easy to identify individuals or groups within these categories. But in Congolese politics, individuals and groups do not nucleate within these categories, i.e., the pro-Bloc groups do not necessarily band together because they are pro-Bloc. Issues are usually quite local, frequently evanescent and very often highly personal; leftists and moderates will band together to undercut an individual too long in office, or to defeat a measure which threatens their [Page 205] official perquisites. Issues are rarely ideological or philosophical, although they may sometimes assume such as protective coloration. This factor makes our choice(s) difficult from an organizational standpoint. We can select a series of groups who, by our logic, should combine themselves into a potent organization; yet such an organization will inexplicably (to us) shatter itself over an inconsequential issue.

8. The Abako Party for the foreseeable future, will continue to be moderate and pro-West and federalist. It has no potential to become a national party. It is the natural ally of other moderate, tribally-based parties which also favor the continuation of tribal autonomy through fairly to very loose federation within the Congo. Its hold over the significant Bakongo tribal area is unlikely to be challenged. The major bar to its enduring alliance with other tribal parties is the question of spoils of office and regional/national sharing of revenues. Its leaders hold and will continue to hold an important share in the Central Government cabinet and other appointive offices. A major issue is the question of the jurisdiction over Leopoldville city, traditionally Bakongo territory, and with great voting power (population approaching 1,000,000). A secondary issue is Central Government support of the Union of Angolan Peoples (UPA), which support is contrary to the Abako’s unrealistic ambition to control the Bakongo tribes of Angola and both Congos and in come mystical fashion to resurrect the old Kongo Empire. The ABAKO probably maintains greater unity between provincial and national leaders than do other parties, primarily because of the location of Leopoldville. However, it can hardly be described as a monolith.

9. The Conakat Party, consisting of the non-Baluba forces of Katanga (plus Kasongo-Niembo’ Balubas), is dominated by Lunda and Bayeke leaders. Its virtual exclusion of Balubas is based on the traditional hostility toward the Baluba fostered by Baluba superiority in adapting to Katanga’s industrial society. The Conakat has been supported heavily by UMHK and conservative Belgian industrial and intellectual circles, and its views generally favor the continuation of a Belgian presence and of free enterprise; politically, it favors maximum decentralization of central government and a minimal sharing of provincial revenues. The degree to which it still enjoys Belgian support is still undertermined; it is likely to return to secessionism if the final Congolese constitution does not permit a large degree of provincial autonomy or if ANC units in Katanga continue to act in an undisciplined fashion.

10. The Balubakat party is traditionally opposed to the Conakat for tribal reasons, and has in the past been its competitor for power in Katanga. Since the end of Katanga’s secession, a large element of the Balubakat has favored a rapprochement with the Conakat and the formation of a United Front in central government parliament, and the [Page 206] reunification of North and South Katanga. Some elements of the Balubakat, particularly those members now holding official positions in the North Katanga Government, oppose such reunification.

11. There are strong reasons why the United Front should hold together; thereby, they could represent in the central government the largest and richest province, and, with the resources at their disposal, could exercise a decisive influence in national politics. Further, such a United Front would have a natural affinity with the Abako party which has substantially the same political aims, particularly regarding provincial autonomy. The aims of the Baluba/Kasai group should also be substantially similar. So there is the possibility of an alliance of the major parties of the entire southern half of the Congo as a conservative, Western-oriented, coalition representing the majority of the Congolese population, a majority which embodies the highest percentage of skills, and an overwhelming percentage of its wealth. While such a coalition would probably pursue acceptable policies, it would also risk bringing about a sharp North-South cleavage. The extremists of the PSA, MNC/L and Cerea would oppose it by all means, probably including violence. The Mongo/Bangala groups would oppose it as they would be relinquishing the important positions they now occupy, and as—coming from a poor province—they would favor more rather than less central government control of the provinces and their revenues. Similarly, the moderates of Orientale and Kivu would oppose such a coalition as it would seriously reduce their voices in the parliament. Nevertheless, that serious opposition to a Conakat/Balubakat/Baluba–Kasai/Abako coalition would arise should not be over-stressed; there will be serious opposition to any force which threatens to become predominant in Congo politics, and means can always be found to ameliorate the sharpness of such opposition. It appears to us that the emergence of such a coalition is the most probable political development, given the “geopolitical” forces in play.

12. As for the other political groups in the Congo today, it is evident that that formerly strong MNC/L, as well as the PSA, are deeply, perhaps irretrievably split between their moderate and extremist wings; further, that there seems to be less and less identity between party stalwarts at the provincial and national levels. Cerea, if it still exists in fact, is similarly split (Kashamura/Weregemere), and the remaining parties in parliament can hardly be said to exist as such. There is the possibility, of course, that these disparate elements could bury their differences for the immediate, tactical purpose of surviving in the face of a coalescence of the southern tier forces described above. Given the history of efforts elsewhere to form “united fronts” between right and left (or moderate and extremist), and given the ever-presence of Soviet assistance to the extremists, we believe that a “united front” of the [Page 207] northern tier should be discouraged, and attempts be made to prevent its formation or, if formed, to fragment it, on the grounds that it is likely to fall under radical influence.

13. Assuming that the above analysis has at least a shred of validity, there are several courses of action available:

A. Continued support of the present ruling group. We are committed to do this and have been given specific authority therefor, so some effort will have to be made in this direction. The group, however, has the shortcomings cited in Dir 36265, and it is doubtful if they could withstand the forces of a southern tier coalition.

B. Observe the trend toward the formation of a southern tier coalition with the possibility of supporting it (and fragmenting the opposition) at some future point in time.

C. Re-explore the tribal chiefs approach. Despite the Traditional Chiefs Organization’s very poor showing to date, one cannot help but feel that the Congo is going to be tribally-based for some time to come, and that a viable political organization must take this into account and channel it into productive channels.

D. Engage in tactical political action on an ad hoc basis, while reinforcing the ANC’s reliability and capabilities through troop indoctrination programs with the aim of placing the ANC in a totally decisive position in internal affairs, at least to the extent that if our interest requires their intervention in political affairs, we may be assured that such intervention will be effective.

E. Approach Congolese political organizational problems on a clandestine basis ([Identity 1]), attempting to build “cells” or “control groups” in the major political entities.

14. Evidently, it is theoretically possible to combine more than one of the above alternatives into a combined approach to the problem. And, it need hardly be said, we must exercise a reasonable economy of effort, consistent with our basic objective to deny the Congo to the Bloc.

15. Lastly, we have addressed ourselves alone largely to the political situation of the immediate post-independence period during which the first generation of politicians continue to dominate—leaders largely elected in 1960. We must be diligent in identifying and developing appropriate relations with the men of the second generation as they emerge.

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency Files, Job 78–00435R, DDO/ISS Files, Box 2, Folder 2, [cryptonym not declassified] Operations. Secret. Drafted by [name not declassified].
  2. See footnote 3 to Document 143.