Magazine article History Today

Upheaval in the Congo: July 11th, 1960

Magazine article History Today

Upheaval in the Congo: July 11th, 1960

Article excerpt

Pressure for independence in the Belgian Congo mounted steadily in the 1950s until in 1959 the Belgian government gave way, hoping at least to retain a substantial role in its former colony. Rival Congolese political parties had formed, but the pre-independence election was inconclusive and a coalition government had to be cobbled together when the country became the Democratic Republic of the Congo on June 30th, 1960. The president was the conservative-inclined Joseph Kasavubu. The prime minister was the left-wing nationalist Patrice Lumumba, head of the Mouvement National Congolais, which he had helped to found in 1958.

The two men fell out immediately, the new government was paralysed and within a few days there were army mutinies and disturbances around the country in which Belgians were attacked. Belgian troops were sent in to restore order and protect Belgian nationals, which the Congolese government at first reluctantly accepted. On July 11th, however, Moise Tshombe, president of the province of Katanga, which was rich in mineral resources, announced his province's secession from the republic. …

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