of the Congo in 1960
proclaimed on June 30, 1960, the Republic of the
Congo faced internal conflicts almost
On January 20, 1960, a
conference on the progress of Congo independence
opened in Brussels. Presided over by Albert
Pilar, Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium, the
conference brought together 10 members of the
Belgian Parliament appointed from among the
government and opposition parties and 44
Africans, including tribal chiefs and party
leaders. At the end of the conference, Patrice
Lumumba said that the Africans had achieved all
their aims. A crown council of cabinet ministers
and ministers of state regarded the outcome of
the conference as logical. The Congo would become
independent on June 30 after provincial and
general elections, the formation of a government,
and the election of a head of state.
chieftain of the Baluba tribe wearing a
sign saying "Hail Congo, Hail
Independence, Hail Great Leader
Kalomji" (Albert Kalomji, political
Baudouin saluting as he passes through
the streets of Elisabethville after
concluding discussions preparatory to
It was decided
that the Congolese legislature would consist of a
House of Representatives with one Representative
for every 100,000 citizens, elected by universal
adult male suffrage and a Senate formed of
members designated by the six provicincial
assemblies on the basis of 14 for each province,
of whom at least 3 would be tribal chiefs or
leaders. The central government would control
external relations, defense and national police
forces, finances, and foreign trade. The
provincial governments would organize the local
police, as well as grant mining, agricultural,
and forestry concessions. An economic conference
was held in Brussels April 26 to May 16 to
organize economic, financial, and social
cooperation between Belgium and the Republic of
the Congo. King Baudouin
signed the provisional constitution for the Congo
on May 19.
Map showing the six
provinces of the new Republic of the Congo.
In the elections for the
provincial assemblies Lumumba and his supporters
won 27% of the seats. His party, the Congolese
National Movement (M.N.C.) also won 74 of the 137
seats in the House of Representatives. The posts
of president and two vice-presidents of the House
were filled by his supporters but leadership of
the Senate was won by Joseph Ileo, an ally of
Joseph Kasavubu, Lumumba's principal rival. The
first Congolese government was formed on June 24,
with Lumumba as Prime Minister and Kasavubua as
head of state. A Belgian-Congolese treaty of
friendship was signed on June 29, and the
independence of the Republic of the Congo was
formally proclaimed by King Baudouin at
ceremonies in Léopoldville on June 30.
King Baudouin is surrounded
by cheering Congolese troops following
Serious internal troubles began almost
immediately after the declaration of
independence. Tribal violences flared up at
Luluabourg between the Lulua and Baluba tribes
and within a week a mutiny broke out in the
Belgian-officered Congolese army; the mutiny was
soon joined by police. Officers were injured,
looting began, Belgians were attacked, and
Belgian women were raped. Lumumba dismissed Major
General Emil Janssens and other Belgian officers
whom he accused of being responsible for the
mutiny, and appointed Congolese Sergeant-Major
Victor Lundula Commander of the Army.
Congolese mourn comrades killed in rioting
and fighting at Matadi in July.
An airlift for the departure of Belgians had
already begun in June, and after the disorders
broke out about 15,000 Europeans fled. Belgian
forces stationed at the bases in Kitona, at the
mouth of the Congo River, and Kamina, in the Katanga province,
reinforced by troops sent from Belgium,
intervened to protect Belgian residents. The
Congolese government appealed to Ghana for
military aid and broke off official relations
with Belgium. A month later the Belgian
ambassador was expelled from Léopoldville.
Elisabeth, Queen Mother of Belgium, greets
and comforts, at Brussels airport, a victim of
the uprising of Congolese troops against European
residents shortly after independence.
|Nuns and other Europeans
take shelter during gunfire at
Léopoldville airport, July 15.
|A boatland of Europeans
escape from Léopoldville to Brazzaville.
Lumumba asked the United
Nations to intervene and on July 14 the Security
Council voted to organize and send a U.N. force
to Congo. Ghana put two battalions at U.N.
disposal. Other units were sent by Sweden,
Morocco, Guinea, Tunisia, Ethiopia, the Republic
of Ireland, Canada, and the United Arab Republic,
all of which were placed under the command of
Major-General Carl von Horn of Sweden. U.N.
Hammarskjöld, who visited the Congo in July
and August, was represented in Léopoldville
first by Ralph
Bunche of the United States and after August
20 by Rajeshwar Dayal of India.
|U.N. policeman from Ghana
maintaining order on the streets of
Léopoldville, August 9.
|A detachment of Swedish
troops soon after landing at
Léopoldville, August 12.
|U.N. troops, clockwise
from upper left: Canadian, Guinean,
|Arrival of Major-General
Carl von Horn at Elisabethville.
Belgian forces began
withdrawing after a decision by the Security
Council, but a number of officers remained as
technicians at the request of Moishe Tshombé,
who had declared the independence of Katanga on
July 11. Katanga's independence was not
recognized by any country, however. The presence
of Belgian technicians in Katanga caused friction
between the Belgian government and Hammarskjöld
in October. Secession also took place in Kasai
Machine guns are trained on Congolese
soldiers captured in Elisabethville, Katanga, on
July 10, by Belgian troops serving Moishe
Tshombe, secessionist leader.
The main political crisis started on September
5, when President Kasavubu dismissed Lumumba.
Lumumba, who had the support of the Soviet Union
and Soviet-backed African nations, declared that
he was still Prime Minister, however, even after
Kasavubu appointed Senate President Joseph Ileo
as Prime Minister. There were now two rival
governments operating in the Congo, with some
ministers serving both. On September 14, Army
Chief Colonel Joseph Mobutu
suspended President Kasavubu and both Prime
Ministers and established a committee of students
to run the administration. He also expelled the
Soviet and Czechoslovak embassies. In November,
Lumumba was arrested. Political confusion
continued through the end of the year.
|Government troops firing
on secessionist Baluba tribesmen of Kasai
province in September.
|Bangala tribesmen being
rounded up by government troops after a
demonstration in Léopoldville in
September against Prime Minister Patrice
"stand guard" as the Soviet
flag is being taken down by embassy
|Soviet embassy personnel
board a plane for home after the closure
of the Soviet embassy.
|Soviet Ambassador M.D.
Yakovlev is being pursued by a news
photographer as he walks toward a plane
for a flight back to the Soviet Union.
chargé d'affaires from Ghana, was also
ordered to leave the Congo because of his
support of deposed Prime Minister
|Moise Tshombé, Premier
of the secessionist province of Katanga,
joined with Mobutu in suport of President
Kasavuvu in September.
|Deposed Prime Minister
Patrice Lumumba being brought back a
prisoner to Léopoldville on November 28
after escaping house arrest.
|Colonel Joseph Mobutu led
the September 14 coup against Lumumba and
was serving as virtual dictator of the
Congo at year's end.
Britannica Book of the Year 1961
Chicao: Encyclopćdia Britannica, Inc., 1961
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