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

1911. Re Embtel 1907.2 Kasavubu told Belg Amb noon today there was no question of his making proposed statement Deptel 18943 as subsequently modified. He very polite but extremely firm in his negative attitude. He said he had already made appeal to rebels. His own population dead-set against forgiveness due wanton destruction life within rebel areas. If he were to make appeal it would be misconstrued here as weakness and would thus weaken his own position and that of his govt. Furthermore futility of such appeal should be obvious in that rebels allege “I do not exist.” He also worried regarding non-Congolese in that rebels would interpret his appeal as sign of success of their hostage policy and that they were on way to international recognition and eventually negotiation with central govt thanks to their policy [Page 472] of cruelty and reprisals. Therefore, it essential that military action move ahead as fast as possible.

When De Kerchove mentioned Katangan precedent, Kasavubu said that situation today totally different in that Katangans recognized they were in succession from central govt. Thus they recognized Kasavubu as head of central govt. Rebels, however, do not recognize Kasavubu as head of central govt and are making every effort take over govt and destroy Kasavubu. De Kerchove then said that while Kasavubu looking at this purely from internal Congolese point of view, Belgium and other friendly govts were concerned with international ramifications of situation. Belg Govt representing Belgian people, wants maintain Kasavubu’s international position and peaceful image that he now has in minds of all Belgians. Belgians like peaceful people and if he acquired image of someone who can resort only to arms, it will not improve his standing throughout world. Kasavubu made no substantive comment. De Kerchove then referred to Congo’s loneliness in African family and bespoke necessity having recourse to OAU. Kasavubu said that he had done everything possible to get OAU here and had recently heard from Kenyatta who inquired whether OAU would have liberty of movement here. Kasavubu said he had informed Kenyatta that Commission certainly would have complete liberty of movement, but he could not guarantee whether they could get into Stan because unfortunately he did not control that city today. Kasavubu reiterated that he thought there nothing more he could do in OAU domain.

In conclusion Kasavubu repeated he would not make any statement. He said, however, he would discuss matter further with PriMin and would of course let De Kerchove know results. He implied, however, that anyone who makes such statement would be endangering his position here and De Kerchove got impression that he would advise Tshombe against such action. I asked De Kerchove whether he had associated USG with his démarche and whether he thought there anything I could do at this time. De Kerchove said that he told Kasavubu several times that draft had been prepared by our two govts but that as Belgium had largest human stake Stan, it had been agreed that he should make first démarche. He repeatedly referred in his conversation to the 5 official Americans Stan and to the presence of American, as well as other, missionaries in rebel territory. As for my seeing Kasavubu this afternoon, De Kerchove personal opinion is that it would be waste of time for Kasavubu knows that we feel as strongly as Belgium does on this issue.

Finally De Kerchove said that he mentioned to Kasavubu what he understood to be VDW’s timetable for recapture Stan for he used timetable as means to emphasize urgency of statement.

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Notwithstanding apparent futility of such action, am seeking meeting with Kasavubu. Am asking it on urgent basis but I personally would hope it would occur only after Tshombe has discussed this action with Pres which I believe will occur this afternoon. Meanwhile, De Kerchove and I are coordinating our backup démarche to Tshombe for which we have not yet been given appointments.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–9 THE CONGO. Secret; Flash; Limdis. Received at 10:57 a.m. and repeated to Brussels, Addis Ababa, Lagos, London, and Lusaka. Passed to the White House, DOD, and CIA.
  2. Dated November 16. (Ibid.)
  3. Telegram 1894 to Leopoldville, November 9, transmitted the text of a proposed Kasavubu declaration calling on the rebels to lay down their arms, accept his government’s guarantees of amnesty, and join in constructing a great nation in peace and order. (Ibid.)