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

990. Ref: Embtel 983 (Notal).2

1. [less than 1 line not declassified] Devlin called on Mobutu this morning at 1130 local. He was not observed by press. Mobutu made following points in conversation which lasted over an hour but which was often interrupted by phone calls:

A. Fully understands USG will be unable recognize his regime immediately. In this connection he concurs it would be preferable for USG await action by several African states prior to extending recognition. He hopes, however, American recognition will not be overly delayed.

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B. Mobutu repeatedly stressed that, in conjunction with army, he had overthrown govt in order avoid prolonged political crisis which, in his opinion, would have eventually led to chaos and redounded to profit only rebels and would have also resulted in major economic crisis. Mobutu further stated that, while thought of coup d’état had been in his mind, he had not intended act so precipitously. He explained, however, that all senior officers in attendance at his Nov 24 meeting had unanimously insisted that the army intervene in order insure governmental mechanism was put to work once again. Col. Ferdinand Malili, ANC Chief of Staff, in separate conversation with Devlin, confirmed decision had been unanimous and none of the officers would hear of delay in implementing coup.

C. Mobutu said that, while he will endeavor maintain good relations with all African States, his regime will insure that Communist influence is not felt in Congo.

D. Mobutu wants create govt of senior party and regional officials all of whom must be extremely competent in their given ministries. Said he had been in telephone communications with Tshombe, who, Mobutu alleges, supports his action. Mobutu said he has not yet decided identity of persons to be included in new govt but indicated he might well name Tshombe as Min Econ Affairs and possibly Vice Premier. He also stated he is considering Bomboko FonMin. He noted that Bomboko has better understanding of African and UN affairs than any other Congolese with possible exception of Adoula. He also implied he might ask Adoula serve as roving ambassador to other African States. Mobutu plans retain Defense Ministry and said he would ask Gen. Delperdange remain as his Chief Advisor Military Affairs in ministry. He also strongly implied that although Gen. Bobozo will serve as Chief of Army, he (Mobutu) intends retain personal control of army.

E. Mobutu repeatedly stressed he is counting on American friendship and support and commented that if his govt fails, it will result in complete chaos in Congo, a situation which, he thought, would almost certainly spread to neighboring countries. Although time did not permit Mobutu to be more specific, if indeed he does know exactly what he wants at this time he said he is counting on American support in providing food and advice as to how resolve critical economic and financial situation faced by GDRC. Elaborating on this thought, he referred to food shortages in certain areas which must be eliminated to forestall further serious price increases. Said what he needs most at this moment is top-notch economic advice.

F. When Devlin took his leave, Mobutu urged him cable Washington immediately explain that GDRC is prepared work in close cooperation USG in effort resolve serious problems in Congo.

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G. Mobutu believes he has support of Presidents of House and Senate. Said both officials have promised try to organize parliament in order obtain parliamentary approval for coup. They told him they would schedule such meetings of both houses of parliament for 1500 local Nov 25. Mobutu added he had told presidents of chambre and Senate he hopes create stable regime with continuity and added for example that if things worked out he would expect presidents of both houses remain in office at least five years.

H. Mobutu said that while Kasavubu is free Mobutu does not expect him leave his residence. When Devlin asked what would happen if Kasavubu were to move to Bas Congo area, Mobutu merely shrugged and repeated that he did not expect Kasavubu leave Leo.

2. Atmospherics: Mobutu appeared relaxed despite fact that he said he had not slept for approximately 36 hours. He was surrounded by all his senior officers most of whom seemed tired but satisfied with developments. One exception appeared to be Col. Yamasaki, Kasavubu’s military aide. Latter had a rather long face and looked even worse than he usually did.

3. Comment: Request immediate instructions on how Dept wishes contact be maintained with Mobutu. During Devlin’s conversation with General, Mobutu said he looked to me personally for friendship, advice and guidance. I realize that until recognition is accorded, it is impossible for me to call officially but trust Dept would have no objection to informal, discreet meetings when and if requested by Mobutu. In meantime, Devlin will remain in contact but I do not believe it is wise that this be sole contact for protracted period. Re this point should note that Devlin is as close personally to Mobutu as any non-Congolese I know of.

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency Files, [text not declassified], Vol. III, Mobutu. Secret; Immediate. Received at 1110Z. Repeated immediate to Brussels, Bukavu, Bujumbura, Dakar, Daressalaam, Cairo, Kampala, Khartoum, Kigali, Lagos, Luanda, Lusaka, Elisabethville, CINCSTRIKE for POLAD, Paris, Nairobi. Telegram 2526 from Leopoldville to CIA, November 25, transmitted the text of telegram 990, noting that Leopoldville was sending it through CIA channels to ensure immediate receipt by Headquarters.
  2. Document 452.