4. Memorandum From the Chief of the Africa Division, Directorate of Plans, Central Intelligence Agency (Tweedy) to the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (Satterthwaite)1


  • Political Action Operations in the Belgian Congo

Quoted below as received from Brussels and Leopoldville via [CIA] channels are joint [State/CIA] statements on the Belgian Congo political situation.

[Page 8]

a. Brussels

We believe that it is unwise to undertake a major political action program in the pre-election period. The political situation in the Congo is highly fluid. We are new on the Congo political scene and, with few exceptions, do not have sufficient information on which to base a judgment on who will win or who merits support. However, we are not opposed to giving discreet support (provided it is not attributable to the United States Government) to a limited number of candidates if specific justification is provided in each case. In view of the delicacy of the situation and paucity of good information, we believe it is essential that the [CIA] representative consult with the senior [State] representative in Leopoldville on specific cases.

Our view is that pre-election emphasis should be on establishing access to and infiltration of various political groups by both normal political officer contact and [less than 1 line not declassified] key militants. The information obtained from both these activities is a necessary basis for planning a sound investment in a limited number of key political leaders.

We are opposed to any “stop Lumumba” campaign. He is one of the few, if not only, Congolese leaders with a Congo-wide appeal and standing. We feel it is almost certain that he will play an important political role in the Congo for at least the next two years. Thus, an anti-Lumumba campaign could backfire. Although we consider him unscrupulous and willing to accept aid from anyone if it would help him, we suggest the possibility of limited funding to Lumumba along with other selected leaders. This would provide relatively more help to other leaders but would also keep the door open for future Lumumba contacts and perhaps avoid alienating him if he learns of our support to other leaders.

[3 names not declassified] seem more attractive than many other leaders because their newspaper and trade union ties give them some assurance of a continued role in Congo affairs if they fail as political candidates. Also, [name not declassified] may offer a line to [name not declassified]. We suggest that consideration also be given to possible assistance to [1 line not declassified] who is fighting against the communist sympathizers, [1 line not declassified] approached the Brussels senior [State] representative in Bukavu and made a good impression. If the [CIA] representative in Leopoldville agrees, this would seem a particularly good case where a small investment could pay real returns in weakening an existing communist beachhead in East Congo.

Whether or not it is decided to mount political operations, it is strongly recommended that Washington tell the Belgian Embassy that we do not intend to intervene in the Congolese elections. As a matter of [Page 9] interest, the [State] establishment in Brussels considers2 [less than 1 line not declassified].

b. Leopoldville

Whatever action we might undertake, now or at a later date, in the internal politics of the Congo, we should exercise extreme caution in dealing with either [less than 1 line not declassified] has always shown certain suspicions regarding our motives and even recently cautioned Ngalula, during the latter’s stay in Washington, not to be taken in by the blandishments of U.S. officials (see [State] despatch [illegible], 23 March).3 In addition, [name not declassified] has often tried to minimize to [State] the problems in the Congo. For example, the Belgian Embassy’s statement following the January 1959 riots said that they were of little significance. Based on our contacts, we likewise do not believe [illegible] suitable for participation in such negotiations.

The present political situation in the Congo is so fluid that we would be running great risks were we to enter the arena now. At present, there is no single political leader or party which has a majority. After forthcoming elections, it is almost inevitable that cartels and new political groups will be formed for the purpose of obtaining power and planting their own men in key positions.

Since mid-March, there has been growing opposition to Lumumba among the Congolese themselves. They have already set the machinery in motion to stop Lumumba, and they themselves may be able to accomplish this. (See [State] telegram 271 to Washington, 139 to Brussels.)4

Pending present fast breaking developments (Joseph Kasavubu’s swing around the Congo, the Congolese of the MNC, Lumumba wing, now being held in [illegible—Lulabourg?] we should now reserve our position regarding assistance to certain candidates for limited purposes. In this connection, we shall continue to follow closely the general developments and activities of promising candidates.

[pseudonym not declassified]5
  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency Files, Job 76–00366R, DDO/ISS Files, Box 1, Folder 7, Congo, 1960–1969, Part 1. Secret. This memorandum was sent via back-channel. For this volume, where possible, the editors have used bracketed insertions to indicate names, titles, or agencies in place of cryptonyms that are not declassified.
  2. Counselor for Congo Affairs at the Belgian Embassy in Washington. [Footnote in the original.]
  3. Not found.
  4. Not found.
  5. Printed from a copy bearing Tweedy’s typed pseudonym.