471. Information Memorandum From the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (Fredericks) to Secretary of State Rusk1
- Coup Plot Exposed in Leopoldville
In the early hours of May 30 the Congolese Government exposed a rather childish plot to overthrow the Mobutu regime. Four former national ministers were arrested through the loyalty to Mobutu of several high-ranking Congolese military officers (notably Colonel Bangala, Governor of Leopoldville) who by pretending to join the conspirators foiled the plot and demonstrated the solidity of Mobutu’s position.
The arrested conspirators are: (1) Evariste Kimba (a BALUBAKAT politician from North Katanga who served as Tshombe’s Foreign Minister during secession and whose brief designation as national Prime Minister last fall was interrupted by Mobutu’s November 25 coup), (2) Jerome Anany (a PNP politician from Bukavu who served as Defense Minister under Cyrille Adoula), (3) Alexandre Mahamba (member of the MNC/Lumumba and CEREA parties from North Kivu, who [Page 691] held several ministerial portfolios under Adoula), (4) Senator Emmanuel Bamba (an ABAKO politician from Kongo Central and close associate of former President Kasavubu and a Finance Minister under Adoula).
Further arrests of Congolese politicians are expected; former Ministers Cleophas Kamitatu, Paul Bolya and Albert Delvaux and provincial politicians Andre Kapwasa and Jean Miruho have been implicated.
Government spokesmen accused the plotters of high treason and predicted that they will be tried immediately and executed publicly.2 A proclamation which the conspirators had purportedly drawn up called for the overthrow of the Mobutu regime mainly for mishandling of the country’s economic and financial situations.
Government statements claimed that four unidentified, non-African Embassies in Leopoldville were approached by the conspirators. We have been told by the Congolese that the Belgian and French Embassies were involved somehow with the conspirators, while our Embassy and the West Germans behaved correctly. A Belgian First Secretary, whose contacts were quite indiscreet, has been declared PNG.
We were approached by Senator Bamba directly late last week [less than 1 line not declassified] in an effort to obtain our support for the coup. Our Chargé warned Bamba against the coup attempt. After receiving Departmental approval he had the CAS Station Chief tell Mobutu of our knowledge of a plot. The latter said he already knew of it. The Chargé’s prompt action put us in the clear. The Belgians, however, are in a difficult position. The mere existence of the plot has strengthened Mobutu’s belief that the Belgians are out to get him. We are doing our best to calm him down and prevent an even further deterioration of strained GOB–GDRC relations.
- Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–9 THE CONGO. Secret. Drafted by Brown and Canup.↩
- Telegram 2270 from Leopoldville, May 31, reported that the four men had been found guilty of high treason and sentenced to death. (Ibid., POL 29 THE CONGO) Telegram 1266 to Leopoldville, June 1, transmitted a message from Harriman to Mobutu urging that he demonstrate his government’s magnanimity by commuting the death sentences. (Ibid., POL 23–9 THE CONGO) In telegram 2292 from Leopoldville, June 2, Blake reported that he delivered Harriman’s message to Bomboko in Mobutu’s presence. (Ibid., POL 29 THE CONGO) In telegram 2293, June 2, Blake reported that Bomboko telephoned and said very serious consideration had been given to Harriman’s message, but it was not possible to commute the death sentences. (Ibid.) On June 2, the four men were hanged in a public execution.↩