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Congo Crisis


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(1960–65)

A series of political disturbances in the Democratic Republic of the Congo following its independence from Belgium. The sudden decision by Belgium to grant independence to its vast colony along the Congo was taken in January 1960. A single state was to be created, governed from Léopoldville (Kinshasa). Fighting began between tribes during parliamentary elections in May and further fighting occurred at independence (30 June). The Congolese troops of the Force Publique (armed police) mutinied against their Belgian officers. Europeans and their property were attacked, and Belgian refugees fled. In the rich mining province of Katanga, Moise Tshombe, supported by Belgian troops and White mercenaries, proclaimed an independent republic. The government appealed to the United Nations for troops to restore order, and the UN Secretary-General Hammarskjöld despatched a peacekeeping force to replace the Belgians. A military coup brought the army commander, Colonel Mobutu, to power with a government which excluded the radical Prime Minister, Patrice Lumumba. In 1961 Lumumba was killed, allegedly by “hostile tribesmen”, and Hammarskjöld died in an air crash on a visit to the Congo. The fighting continued and independent regimes were established at different times in Katanga, Stanleyville, and Kasai. In November 1965 the Congolese army under Mobutu staged a second coup, and Mobutu declared himself President.

Subjects: World History — Military History.


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