the cold war

Zaire was most definitely a player in the Cold War. In fact, many people believe that this was the reason that Mobutu stayed in power for so long- this story certainly makes sense to me. Here is a shortened version of the story in a different light:

Remember that within a week of Dipanda things began to fall apart in the Congo: the military revolted, Katanga seceded, and various tribes started wars. Lumumba, in a panic, applied to many countries for aid, including the United States; however, no one was willing to send troops. Lumumba, desperate for troops and funds, applied to the Soviet Union for help. They gladly obliged.

The United States was worried. Anti-Soviet feelings ran high in the US in the early 60's, and Lumumba's action looked frighteningly like a communist move. They got on the phone with the Chief of Staff of the Army, an unassuming man named Colonel Mobutu. They may have offered him an alliance or money, it is not clear which; but as soon as the time was right Mobutu suddenly did something entirely out of character: he seized control of the government and exiled Lumumba from the capital.

Mobutu reinstated Kasavubu only and kept Lumumba in prison. The US knew Lumumba's popularity, and reasoned that if he was released from prison, he might very well come back into power. In addition, Lumumbist rallies and riots were being staged all over the country and the citizens were calling for his release. So, the US sent in the CIA, who assassinated him while he was en route to prison.


Return to the Outside Relations page