Britain 'pressed America to get rid of Lumumba'
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in Brussels
BRITAIN played an active role in
encouraging America to "get rid of" Patrice Lumumba, the Left-wing
firebrand Congolese prime minister murdered in 1961, according to a
book launched yesterday.
Citing declassified US
documents, the Belgian writer Ludo De Witte claims that Lord Home, the
then Foreign Secretary, pressed the Eisenhower administration to move
swiftly against Lumumba four months before he was killed.
Home held two meetings with Eisenhower in September 1960 to discuss the
disintegration of the former Belgian colony, where Europeans had
suffered a wave of violence and property seizures, and separatists had
taken control of the copper-rich area of Katanga.
then, Lumumba, 35 - the first elected leader of an independent Congo
and already a Third World icon - was under house arrest, "protected" by
United Nations guards.
The West was afraid that his supporters might retake the country with Soviet support.
House records of the first meeting on September 19, 1960, state: "The
president expressed his wish that Lumumba would fall into a river full
of crocodiles; Lord Home said regretfully that we have lost many of the
techniques of old-fashioned diplomacy."
later, Lord Home went further, this time in the presence of Harold
Macmillan, the Prime Minister, demanding prompt action.
to US records: "Lord Home raised the question why we are not getting
rid of Lumumba at the present time. He stressed that now is the time to
get rid of Lumumba."
De Witte's book, The
Assassination of Lumumba, prompted an inquiry by the Belgian parliament
when it was first published in Dutch in 1999.
alleged that Brussels had ordered the "definitive elimination" of
Lumumba - disputing the official version that he was killed in an
internal power struggle.
The new English edition
develops evidence that America took direct control of the operation
after the failure of Belgian plans to eliminate Lumumba.
Allen Dulles, the then CIA chief, allegedly orchestrated assassination plans, including one to poison Lumumba's toothpaste.
In the end, it appears that Anglo-US help was not necessary.
Congolese factions did the dirty work themselves, under Belgian instructions.