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Patrice Lumumba

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Patrice Lumumba
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Patrice Lumumba

Patrice Emery Lumumba (July 2, 1925 - January, 1961) was an African nationalist leader and the first Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo when it declared its independence in June 1960. Forced out of office during a political crisis in September, he was assassinated in January 1961.

Contents

Path to Prime Minister

Lumumba was born in Onalua in the Kasai province of the Belgian Congo. He was educated at a missionary school and worked in Leopoldville (Kinshasa) and Stanleyville (Kisangani) as a clerk and journalist. In 1955 Lumumba became regional president of a Congolese trade union and joined the Belgian Liberal Party. He was arrested in 1957 on charges of embezzlement and imprisoned for a year. On his release he helped found the Mouvement National Congolais (MNC) in 1958. In 1959 Belgium announced a five year path to independence and in the December local elections the MNC won a convincing majority despite Lumumba being under arrest at the time. A 1960 conference in Belgium agreed to bring independence forward to June 1960 with elections in May. Lumumba and the MNC formed the first government on June 23, 1960, with Lumumba as Prime Minister and Joseph Kasavubu as President.

Deposed and Arrested

His rule was marked by the political disruption when the province of Katanga declared independence under Moise Tshombe in June 1960 with Belgian support. Despite the arrival of United Nations troops unrest continued and Lumumba sought Soviet aid. In September Lumumba was dismissed from government by Kasavubu, an act of dubious legality; in retaliation, he attempted to dismiss Kasavubu from the presidency. On September 14 a coup d'etat headed by Colonel Joseph Mobutu (who would later gain fame as President Mobutu Sese Seko) and supported by Kasavubu was successful. Lumumba was arrested on December 1, 1960 by troops of Mobutu. He was captured in Port Francqui and flown to Leopoldville in handcuffs. Mobutu said Lumumba would be tried for inciting the army to rebellion and other crimes. United Nations Secretary General Dag Hammarskjld made an appeal to Kasavubu asking that Lumumba be treated according to due process of law. The USSR denounced Hammarskjld and the Western powers as responsible for Lumumba's arrest and demanded his release.

The United Nations Security Council was called into session on December 7 to consider Soviet demands that the U.N. seek Lumumba's immediate release, the immediate restoration of Lumumba as head of the Congo government, the disarming of the forces of Mobutu, and the immediate evacuation of Belgians from the Congo. Soviet Representative Valerian Zorin refused U.S. demands that he disqualify himself as Security Council President during the debate. Secretary General Dag Hammarskjld, answering Soviet attacks against his Congo operations, said that if the U.N. force were withdrawn from the Congo "I fear everything will crumble."

Following a U.N. report that Lumumba had been mistreated by his captors, his followers threatened (on December 9) to arrest all Belgians and "start cutting off the heads of some of them" unless Lumumba was released within 48 hours.

The threat to the U.N. cause was intensified by the announcement of the withdrawal of their U.N. Congo contingents by Yugoslavia, the United Arab Republic, Ceylon, Indonesia, Morocco, and Guinea. The Soviet pro-Lumumba resolution was defeated on December 14 by a vote of 8-2. On the same day, a Western resolution that would have given Hammarskjld increased powers to deal with the Congo situation was vetoed by the Soviet Union.

Lumumba was then transported on January 17, 1961 from the military prison in Thysville near Leopoldville to a 'more secure' prison in Jadotville in the Katanga Province. There were reports that Lumumba and his fellow prisoners, Maurice Mpolo and Joseph Okito, were beaten by provincial police upon their arrival in secessionist Katanga.

Death of Lumumba

Sixty-seven days after he came to power, Patrice Lumumba was dismissed by state president Joseph Kasavubu. Lumumba, in turn, tried to dismiss Kasavubu, but to no avail. Lumumba was placed under informal house arrest at the prime minister's residence.

Lumumba now made perhaps the worst decision of his life: he decided to escape. Smuggled out of his residence at night in a visiting diplomat's car, he began a long journey towards Stanleyville. Mobutu's troops were in hot pursuit. Finally trapped on the banks of the Sankuru River, he was captured by soldiers loyal to Colonel Mobutu.

He appealed to local UN troops to save him. The UN refused on orders from headquarters in New York. He was flown first to Leopoldville, where he appeared beaten and humiliated before journalists and diplomats.

Further humiliation followed at Mobutu's villa, where soldiers beat the elected prime minister in full view of television cameras. Lumumba was dispatched first to Thysville military barracks, one hundred miles from Leopoldville.

The Belgians demanded a more decisive ending - they wanted Lumumba delivered into the hands of his sworn enemy, President Tschombe of Katanga.

Lumumba was beaten again on the flight to Elizabethville on 17 January 1961. He was seized by Katangese soldiers commanded by Belgians and driven to Villa Brouwe. He was guarded and brutalized still further by both Belgian and Katangese troops while President Tschombe and his cabinet decided what to do with him.

That same night it is said Lumumba was bundled into another convoy that headed into the bush. It drew up beside a large tree. Three firing squads had been assembled, commanded by a Belgian. Another Belgian had overall command of the execution site. Lumumba and two other comrades from the government were lined up against a large tree. President Tschombe and two other ministers were present for the executions, which took place one at a time.

Nothing was said for three weeks - though rumour spread quickly. When Lumumba's death was formally announced on Katangese radio, it was accompanied by an implausible cover involving an escape and murder by enraged villagers.

For many years there was much speculation over the roles that western governments had played in the prime minister's murder. In 2002 both Belgium and the United States were revealed to have been partially culpable in the events. In February of 2002, the Belgian government admitted to "an irrefutable portion of responsibility in the events that led to the death of Lumumba." In July of the same year documents released by the United States government revealed that the CIA had played a role in Lumumba's assassination, aiding his opponents with money and political support, and in the case of Mobutu with weapons and military training.

Filmography

  • Lumumba: La mort du prophte (1992) aka "Lumumba: Death of a Prophet"[1] (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0104775/) Documentary
  • Lumumba : Un crime d'Etat (in english : A state crime)[2] (http://histoireetgeographie.free.fr/index.php)
  • Lumumba[3] (http://www.zeitgeistfilms.com/current/lumumba/lumumba.html) Drama with footage from Lumumba: La mort du prophte
  • Tule tagasi, Lumumba (1991) aka "Come Back, Lumumba"[4] (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0197981/)
  • Congo 1961, El (1961)[5] (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0248737/)Himself, Documentary

Archive Footage

  • JFK (1991)[6] (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0102138/)(uncredited) Himself (with white shirt, hands bound behind back)

Books

de:Patrice E. Lumumba et:Patrice Lumumba fr:Patrice Lumumba nl:Patrice Lumumba ja:パトリス・ルムンバ no:Patrice Lumumba pl:Patrice Lumumba sv:Patrice Lumumba wa:Patrice Lumumba

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