From Africa Recovery, Vol.15#4 (December 2001), Watch page

Belgian commission admits 'moral responsibility'

More than four decades after the January 1961 assassination of Congo's first president, Mr. Patrice Lumumba, a Belgian parliamentary commission of inquiry has concluded that former Belgian ministers bear a "moral responsibility" for the killing. "We need to show Africans that we are prepared to look clearly at what we did in their countries," explained Mr. Geert Versnick, the commission chairman. "We lecture them about human rights and good government and the rule of law. And they ask us: 'What did you do here?'"

The mystery of Mr. Lumumba's assassination has long been a source of controversy within Africa. The precise identity of the assassins has never been established, although it is generally known that he was killed by secessionist leaders in the then breakaway province of Katanga (now Shaba). Coming at a time of civil war in which various foreign military forces were involved and the UN was carrying out a difficult peacekeeping mission, many Africans believe there also was some role by Western intelligence agencies.

The commission's final report concluded that there is no documentary or eyewitness evidence that the Belgian government or any of its members "gave the orders to physically eliminate Lumumba." However, it did find that King Baudouin knew of plans by Mr. Lumumba's opponents to assassinate him and that some Belgian officers had witnessed the killing.

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