272. Telegram 5166 From the Embassy in Zaire to the Department of State1 2


  • Abortive Coup

1. Kinshasa June 12 was buzzing with rumors concerning coup or assassination attempt against Mobutu which aborted, if indeed it were ever tried or even thought of at all. Several of my colleagues during course of day asked me if it were true that plotters were predominantly American-trained officers, to which I could only reply I had heard same rumors they had and didn’t know anthing for certain.

2. Italian Ambassador told me that among arrested is Col. Umba, Mobutu’s personal secretary and head of presidential security, not, according to Simonetti, for participation in plot but for failure to discover it soon enough. We also have reports that General Fallu, recently returned Zairian military attache in Washington, is under arrest. Belgian Charge says he knows that fairly senior Gendarme officer “trained in Belgium” is among arrested. Our understanding is that Captain General Bumba is not amongst those suspected, although reportedly several of arrested officers come from his personal staff. Another peculiar aspect is that, according to some rumors, officers involved are predominantly from tribes from equateur, the President’s own region.

2. Whether there was or was not a plot, it is certain that numerous arrests have been made, some sources speak of ten to twenty officers. The superficial appearance of connections with the US is disturbing, to say the least, and could be subject to rather nasty exploitation. On other hand, if individuals under interrogation tell truth, it should become readily apparent that us was not party to any plot.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Policy Files, 1975. Confidential; Priority. Repeated to Dar Es Salaam, Lusaka, Bujumbura, Luanda, Paris, Brussels, Pretoria, London, Libreville, and Nairobi.
  2. Ambassador Hinton reported on a rumored coup attempt against President Mobutu, speculation of alleged U.S. involvement, and several arrests in Zaire.