ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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From 50 Years Ago: Tshombe's Murder Plot.

Editorial from Volume XIII, No. 7, February 18, 1961.

Tshombe, the Katanga President of the Belgians, could never make a successful writ-er of escape stories. He lacks the talent. The tale he has tried to weave around the triple murder of Patrice Lumumba and his two as-sociates would strain the credulousness of a child of four. Certainly no adult can be per-suaded to accept the explanation that so valu-able a charge as Mr Lumumba was so casual-ly guarded by a negligent band of 18 warders that he was able to tear down, unnoticed, a whole prison wall behind the protective noise of the first available thunderstorm, and deliver himself eagerly to unnamed villagers thirsting for his blood. The wall, we are asked to believe, was battered down by the luckless inmates with the assistance of heavy iron bars. To swallow this little morsel of fan-tasy, one must also be willing to swallow the somewhat larger fantasy that under the be-nevolent rule of the Tshombe Government, prized political prisoners are never housed in a jail without an adequate supply of powerful jail-breaking equipment. That Mr Lumumba was murdered in cold blood at the end of a deeply laid conspiracy against his life, is not in question. What is not clear at this stage, and may not become clear for a long time to come, is when and how the foul deed was planned, and when and how it was finally perpetrated. Almost certainly, L umumba was killed well in advance of the callous and barbaric announcement with which the Minister of the Interior admitted the murder. It was in all probability first con-ceived at the time when Mr Kasavubu, anx-ious to isolate the detained Prime Minister from as much of the country as possible, sought Mr Tshombe’s participation in a round-table conference. The Katanga “President” – or, what is more likely, the Belgian “advisers” at his elbow – named the price for this partici-pation. This price was the handing over of Lumumba to Katanga.

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