Radical media, politics and culture.

UK Backed US and Belgium in Lumumba Murder Plot

Autonomedia writes: "Ian Black writing in the British Guardian: Files show UK backed murder plot

Britain backed Belgium and the US in their desire to eliminate Patrice
Lumumba, the radical prime minister of Congo who was murdered in 1961,
according to newly-discovered documents.
Ludo de Witte, a Flemish historian, reveals that while the US and Belgium
actively plotted to murder the African nationalist leader, the British
government secretly believed that Lumumba posed a serious threat to western
interests and wanted him "got rid of".

Within days of its independence in June 1960, Congo was in chaos, with army
mutinies triggering Belgian military intervention, the secession of the
copper-rich Katanga province and the arrival of UN troops.

On September 19 1960, President Dwight Eisenhower discussed the Congo crisis
with Lord Home, the then foreign secretary. "The president expressed his
wish that Lumumba would fall into a river full of crocodiles," a
declassified US document records. "Lord Home said regretfully that we have
lost many of the techniques of old-fashioned diplomacy."

The minutes suggest that the British government could have known of the
CIA's plans to kill Lumumba, Mr De Witte says.

Just a week later, Eisenhower met the Conservative prime minister, Harold
Macmillan, with the foreign secretary again in attendance.

"Lord Home raised the question why we are not getting rid of Lumumba," the
US account of the talks reports. "He stressed that now is the time to get
rid of Lumumba."

The Congolese leader's public denunciation of racism and exploitation under
80 years of colonial rule and his overtures to the Soviet Union in the midst
of the cold war had made him powerful enemies.

His leftwing foreign policy threatened both Belgian and US interests. France
had close links with Belgium, while Britain had substantial mining interests
in Katanga.

At the end of September 1960, when Lumumba had already been dismissed by the
Congo's president and the army commander moved to arrest him, Howard Smith,
a senior Foreign Office official who was later to become the head of MI5,
led a discussion recorded in a document released by the Public Record Office
last year.

"I can see only two possible solutions to the problem," Mr Smith said. "The
first is the simple one of ensuring Lumumba's removal from the scene by
killing him. This should solve the problem..."

Although protected by UN soldiers, Lumumba was detained and handed over to
his enemies in Katanga on January 17 1961, where he was executed by a firing
squad commanded by a Belgian.

Mr De Witte's book caused an outcry when it was published two years ago and
triggered the establishment of a commission of inquiry in the Belgian
parliament, which is due to report by the autumn.

Its English edition, incorporating newly available documents about British
links with the affair, is due to be published next month.

Revelations about "Operation Barracuda" - the Belgian code name for a plot
to eliminate Lumumba - could be confirmed by the parliamentary inquiry. But
it is not clear whether the Belgian government will be directly implicated
in Lumumba's murder.

"Most of the witnesses are not telling the truth, or the full truth, and
that is a problem," Geert Versnick, the chairman of the commission, said.

The Murder of Lumumba, by Ludo de Witte, is due to be published by Verso on
July 14."