home :: Africa :: Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) :: History :: Postindependence Turmoil :: UN Peace Efforts
Postindependence Turmoil, UN Peace Efforts
Gizenga, Tshombe, Kolwezi, Elisabethville, Leopoldville
In February 1961 the Security Council authorized the UN to use force to prevent civil war in the Congo, and it demanded withdrawal of all foreign military personnel not under UN command. Opposing the council decision and hoping to forestall further UN intervention, 18 leaders of Congolese factions (not including Gizenga) agreed in March to abolish the central government in favor of a confederation of sovereign states. At a later meeting convened in April, Tshombe withdrew his cooperation. Arrested and charged with treason, he secured his release by agreeing to dismiss all foreign advisers and military forces in Katanga. However, on his return to Elisabethville (now Lubumbashi), in Katanga, Tshombe reneged on his agreement. The UN force in the Congo launched limited military action against Tshombe’s forces in September and again in December. While trying to arrange a cease-fire between UN and Katangan forces in September, Secretary-General Hammarskjold was killed under mysterious circumstances in an airplane crash near Ndola, Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia). Meanwhile, Gizenga agreed to join the central government after the new prime minister, Cyrille Adoula, promised to follow the policies of Lumumba. Gizenga was made vice prime minister, but he was removed from his post in January 1962 for defying a parliamentary resolution that he go to Leopoldville to face secession charges.
During the first half of 1962 Tshombe held intermittent talks with Adoula, but the two leaders failed to resolve the Katanga conflict. To compel Tshombe to come to terms, Acting UN Secretary-General U Thant proposed a three-stage plan for ending Katanga’s secession. Tshombe announced his acceptance of the plan but made little effort to implement it. Adoula demanded that the plan be put into effect, by force if necessary. In December UN forces moved decisively against Katanga and gained control of Elisabethville. Tshombe, fleeing before UN troops, established his last stronghold at Kolwezi. On January 15, 1963 he surrendered to integration demands and was promised amnesty for himself and his followers. A few months later , Adoula formed a new cabinet, which included Katangan representatives and gave strongest representation to the Lumumbist party. However, Adoula dissolved the parliament in September 1963. Several key Lumumbist figures turned against Adoula, fled to the east, and plotted revolutions. Strikes and rebellions flared across the country. In June 1964 Adoula resigned as prime minister and was replaced in July by Tshombe. A new constitution was adopted in August 1964. This constitution created new, smaller administrative units and defined the country as a confederation, giving the units a higher degree of autonomy. At the same time, the country was also renamed Democratic Republic of the Congo. Then, in August, Stanleyville fell to Lumumbist rebels. After government troops, aided by European mercenaries, began a drive to recapture the city, the rebels threatened to kill Europeans and Americans being held hostage. On November 24 Belgian paratroops, carried in U.S. aircraft, landed in Stanleyville and, together with Congolese troops, recaptured the city. Also in 1964 Laurent-Desire Kabila, the future Congolese president, led another Lumumbist rebellion, in the eastern province of Kivu. (Kabila later founded the People’s Revolutionary Party (PRP), which in 1967 established a short-lived rebel state in the mountains west of Lake Tanganyika.)
Article key phrases: