183. Circular Telegram From the Department of State to All African Posts1

2451. Return of Tshombe to Congo. Previous US position re ex-Katanga president Moise Tshombe was based on his efforts establish separate, independent state of Katanga thus threatening fragmentation of Congo. There was no US opposition to Tshombe assuming a role to be determined by Congolese people on national political level or even on provincial level within framework Congolese nation.

Tshombe returned to Leopoldville June 26 at invitation of President Kasavubu and Prime Minister Adoula. Speculation is rife as to what role he will play in resolution of current Congo crisis. Possibilities include his becoming Prime Minister, assuming an important Ministry, returning to Katanga, returning to exile but there no firm indication of outcome of present maneuvering. On balance we believe chances are good (but less good than a week ago) that Adoula will remain Prime Minister.

In talks with government officials or other Africans following guidance is provided:

USG views return of Tshombe with some reserve at this point and hopes that he will not be a disturbing factor in Congolese political picture. However determination of his role is a Congolese internal matter.

If he can contribute to internal stability in Congo and strengthen unity of country his presence would be useful. He is still a popular and powerful figure in Katanga and we hope he will anchor that key province to rest of Congo. On other hand if his presence would give rise to secessionist tendencies in Katanga or elsewhere USG would view return with grave concern.

Mr. Tshombe has shown himself to be a gifted opportunist in the past. Recently he has associated himself with extremist and leftist self-exiled Congolese politicians, publicly called for a government of conciliation including elements of all tendencies, and paid visit to Mali. These may be efforts improve his image as an African nationalist and thus gain acceptance from Africans who have always opposed him. He may believe that he can use leftists to come into power and then effectively neutralize and eliminate them. However even if this the case his [Page 262] willingness accept them even temporarily may serve to provide basis for increased Bloc, and perhaps Chicom influence in Congo.

Obviously US cannot make decision re Tshombe’s future but it following situation closely and hopes that results of political palavers in Congo will result in moderate, independent GOC which can maintain internal peace and order, contribute to strengthening of Congolese unity and take necessary steps to establish sound public finance system which will further encourage recent economic upturn.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 6 THE CONGO. Confidential. Drafted by Schaufele; cleared by Fredericks, O’Sullivan, and James Ozzello of EUR; and approved by Harriman. Also sent to Brussels, Paris, and London and pouched to Constantine, Douala, Durban, Enugu, Ibadan, Johannesburg, Kaduna, Oran, and Port Elizabeth.