Monday, January 01, 2018

The Congo Situation--Statement by President Dr. Kwame Nkrumah 
Flag Staff House, Accra, August 6, 1960

The behaviour of the Government of Belgium in regard to Katanga has, in the opinion of my Government created a situation which, if not dealt with firmly and immediately, will constitute a major threat to world peace.

The facts of what has happened are in a way in dispute. At the time of the independence of the Congo, the Belgian Government supported the unity of the new State and a Treaty, which the Belgian Government claim is still in force, was made by Belgium with the Republic of the Congo on the basis of the Republic being one single State. Up to this time, the only suggestion that Katanga might secede was a report in a London newspaper of a supposed interview with the Prime Minister of the Federation of the Rhodesias and Nyasaland, Sir Roy Welensky.

On the 11th July, Mr. Tshombe, the Chairman of the Katanga Provincial Council, issued a statement saying that Katanga was a sovereign independent Republic and calling upon the Federation of Rhodesia to send in troops to restore law and order. Troops were not in fact sent by the Federation, they were shortly — afterwards dispatched by Belgium on the ostensible ground that they were needed to protect the lives of Belgian nationals. Once, however, the Belgian troops arrived in Katanga, they undertook duties in no way connected with preserving the lives and safety of Belgian nationals. Indeed, their activities were in many ways more likely to endanger the lives of Belgian nationals than to protect them.

Such disorder as did occur in the Republic of the Congo was due entirely to the mutiny of the Force Publique. It was a notable feature of the disturbances that no civilians joined in any disorder and such violence as occurred was solely due to the mutineers.

The safety of Belgian lives and property was therefore closely connected with the problem of restoring discipline in the Force Publique. Despite this, the Belgian military authorities in Katanga arrested and held in military custody, the new Commander-in-Chief of the Force Publique. It is hard to imagine any action more likely to encourage the mutiny or to endanger the lives of Belgian nationals.

In the guise of suppressing an alleged mutiny of the Force Publique, the Belgian forces attacked and overwhelmed by superior military force those detachments in the Force Publique in Katanga which supported the legitimate Government. Radio Leopoldville has broadcast a list of the casualties suffered by the Congolese army in this fighting and the total runs into many hundreds of deaths.

On the 14th July, the United Nations Security Council passed the first of its resolutions dealing with the Congo situation. This called for the withdrawal of Belgian troops and the Resolution was accepted by Belgium. On the evening prior to the Security Council meeting, the Government of Ghana invited the Belgian Ambassador in Ghana to get in touch with his own Government so as to be able to inform the Government of Ghana on the exact position of Belgium. In order that he could speak direct to his Government, a telephone circuit to Belgium was specially opened and, as a result of his conversations, the Belgian Ambassador informed the Government of Ghana that the Belgian Government intended to evacuate their troops from Katanga.

Nevertheless, despite these various assurances, Belgian troops remained in Katanga and are, in fact, responsible for denying entry to Katanga to the United Nations forces. It is perfectly clear that since the Belgian forces militarily control all the airfields in the Katanga area, they could have prevented these airfields being closed to United Nations, force. Far from cooperating with the United Nations, the Belgian Government has been actively engaged in supplying with arms and officers and training the so-called Katanga Armed Forces which are now threatening to resist United Nations troops.

The Government of Ghana cannot accept as genuine, the so-called secession movement. Such a movement never appeared until Belgium militarily occupied the area and, in the view of my Government, the utterances of Mr. Tshombe when under Belgian protection have about as much validity as the utterances of the then King of the Belgians when he was under Nazi protection during the war. I agree entirely with the swimming up of the situation which appeared in the United Kingdom newspaper, The Times on the 12th July. After having pointed out that Elizabethville, the capital was entirely under military control, The Times went on to point out that much of what happens in Katanga depends upon what the Union Miniere, which supports Mr. Tshombe, now decides to do.

One of the most worrying features of the present situation is the apparent dictation of policy in Africa by foreign mining companies. It would appear that fundamentally, the Belgian Government are acting in the interests of this concern and with a complete disregard to the interests of the people of the Congo.

The Government of Ghana in the days before the independence of the Congo worked very closely with the Government of Belgium. My Government lent its good offices whenever possible to assist in achieving agreements and compromises. My Government has at all times attempted to maintain good relations with the Government of Belgium and Ghana is willing, once again, to use its good offices to attempt to secure some way out of the present situation.

Any solution, however, can now only be based on the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all Belgian troops. Time is, however, running very short. Ghana for one certainly, and I believe also all of the other independent African States would not tolerate the construction in the centre of Africa of a puppet State maintained by Belgian troops and designed to fit the needs of an international mining concern.

If no United Nations solution is forthcoming, Ghana would lend such armed assistance as the Republic of the Congo might request. Ghana would provide his assistance even though if mean that Ghana and the Congo had to fight alone against Belgian troops and other forces maintained and supplied from Belgium.

My Government, however, believes that if such a struggle did arise, Ghana and other African States would not be without aid and assistance from other colonies which value, as a principle, the conception of African independence.

In the light of the gravity of the situation, I have decided to put the whole issue of the Congo before the National Assembly on Monday and to obtain the necessary mandate for the complete mobilisation of all Ghana armed forces for appropriate action and for such military action that may be required in conceit with the Congo Government for any eventuality.

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