430. Memorandum for the 303 Committee1


  • Contingency Authority for a Program of Action to Maintain an Equilibrium between Congo President Kasavubu and Premier Tshombe

1. The conflict between President Kasavubu and Prime Minister Tshombe that has been developing over the past few months could lead to a serious deterioration of the situation in the Congo unless kept within acceptable limits. If it erupted into an open confrontation prior to the successful completion of the impending military campaign against the Fizi-Baraka area, the last center of organized rebel military strength, the stability of the Central Government could be severely threatened. In addition, the Congolese rebels would be heartened and the radical African States encouraged to return to their policy of active interference in Congolese internal affairs. If Tshombe were forced out of the government, there is the possibility of another Katanga secession. At the very least, his removal would lead many European technicians and businessmen to leave the Congo, with disastrous results for the country’s fragile administrative and economic structure. If on the other hand Tshombe gained the upper hand there is an equally clear possibility that members of the [less than 1 line not declassified], feeling their personal security menaced, would make some violent countermove.

2. It now appears that both parties to the dispute have concluded that for the present at least the existing relationship should continue. However, it is clear that rivalry and deep suspicion persist. Therefore, at recent Washington discussions attended by representatives of the Department of State and CIA, including Ambassador Godley and the CIA Station Chief from Leopoldville, the proposal was put forward and later approved by the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs that a contingency fund of [dollar amount not declassified] be established, from which covert payments to Congolese leaders could be made for the preservation of the KasavubuTshombe tandem, the primary goal being to avert an open confrontation. These payments would be made only with the approval of the Ambassador at Leopoldville and [Page 624] of the Department of State.2 Furthermore, approval to make such payments would be requested only when there existed a threat to the existing balance of power so serious as to require immediate action to avert a major political crisis and possibly another collapse of internal security throughout the Congo. The payments would be made through certain long-established contacts of the CIA Station who from past experience are judged to be reliable and secure. The risk of embarrassment to the United States Government as a result of such payments is considered minimal.

3. A contingency fund of the kind proposed follows logically from the approval by the 303 Committee on 13 August 1964 of a program of covert support for [name not declassified] selected moderate Congolese leaders to seek to achieve the restoration of stability and order in the Congo. Funds for this purpose have been requested from the CIA [less than 1 line not declassified] fund as part of a comprehensive request for funds for paramilitary and other counterinsurgency operations in the Congo.

4. It is recommended that the 303 Committee approve the program described above to maintain the existing KasavubuTshombe tandem at the head of the Central Government of the Congo, in support of which a contingency fund of [dollar amount not declassified] will be established.3

  1. Source: National Security Council, Intelligence Files, Congo 1960–1965. Secret; Eyes Only.
  2. In his [cryptonym not declassified] letter to CIA for September 1965 (dated October 9), the Chief of Station reported that the Station was continuing its efforts to convince Godley of the need to engage in political action operations, but unfortunately the Ambassador continued to oppose such actions for moral and practical reasons. The Station, on the other hand, was convinced that failure to engage in such operations was greatly handicapping the achievement of U.S. objectives in the Congo. The Chief of Station noted that U.S. influence and leverage in the Congo had decreased measurably in the past few months. (Central Intelligence Agency Files, Job 82–005450R, Box 6, Folder 6, Leopoldville, 3 Feb. 54–Dec. 65, [cryptonym not declassified])
  3. A handwritten notation on the original indicates this proposal was approved on October 7, “with the stipulation that funds be cut from [dollar amount not declassified] to [dollar amount not declassified].”