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"Hearts of Darkness", Old and New? Failed States, Civil Wars, Regional Crises, Lost Continents and the Fate of Nations-That-Never-Were-Nations
Unformatted Document Text:  1954-1962, the Belgian government, in the face of popular opposition in Belgium was unwilling to fall back on a military attempt to hold on to the Congo and protect the interests of the big concessionaire companies. Belgium's rapid surrender in the face of the upsurge of Congolese nationalism in the late 1950s encouraged the tendency of the nationalists to splinter along ethnic and regional lines. This tendency had been facilitated by the way pre-colonial divisions were institutionalized, refracted by, and filtered through colonial rule from 1885 to 1960. At the same time as there appeared to be little or no need for Congo wide solidarity in the face of a 'strong' enemy, the different parties escalated their demands attempting to outbid their rival parties. 61 Following urban unrest in early 1960 negotiations were entered into and 'independence' was granted with Lumumba as the first Prime Minister and Joseph Kasvubu as President. Independence in the Congo quickly turned into a major crisis and a UN force (Opération des Nations Unies au Congo, or ONUC) was asked to intervene. The UN operation in the Congo, from July 1960 to June 1964, was the biggest UN action since the war in Korea in the early 1950s. The Congo crisis started with a mutiny in the former Belgian colonial military establishment (Force Publique) that had become the Armé Nationale Congolaise following independence. When troops attacked and killed a number of European officers, the Belgian administrators, and other Europeans who had remained behind after independence fled the country, opening the way for Congolese to replace the European military and administrative elite. Shortly after this Moise Tshombe led a successful secessionist effort to take the wealthy Katanga province out of the new nation. At the end of 1960 President Kasa Vubu dismissed the new Prime Minister, Patrice Lumumba, and a week later Colonel Joseph Mobutu seized power, holding it until February 1961 by which time Lumumba had been killed. 62 Meanwhile, Belgian troops intervened to protect Belgian nationals as civil war spread in the former Belgian colony. The assassination of Lumumba precipitated a Security Council resolution on 21 February 1961 that conferred on ONUC the ability to use force to stop the descent into civil war. Prior to this point ONUC had only been allowed to use force in self-defense. During operations in the Congo, Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöîld was killed in a plane crash and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize posthumously. Even with upwards of 20,000 UN-sponsored troops in the Congo, however, a cease-fire was not agreed to and Katanga was not brought back into the Congo until 1963. At the same time, all ONUC troops had been withdrawn by the end of June 1964 in part because the UN itself was on the brink of bankruptcy (a result of the 61 Nzongola-Ntalaja, The Congo From Leopold to Kabila, 2002, pp, 85-89. 62 Ludo De Witte, The Assassination of Lumumba, London: Verso, 2002.

Authors: Berger, Mark.
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1954-1962, the Belgian government, in the face of popular opposition in Belgium was
unwilling to fall back on a military attempt to hold on to the Congo and protect the
interests of the big concessionaire companies. Belgium's rapid surrender in the face of the
upsurge of Congolese nationalism in the late 1950s encouraged the tendency of the
nationalists to splinter along ethnic and regional lines. This tendency had been facilitated
by the way pre-colonial divisions were institutionalized, refracted by, and filtered through
colonial rule from 1885 to 1960. At the same time as there appeared to be little or no
need for Congo wide solidarity in the face of a 'strong' enemy, the different parties
escalated their demands attempting to outbid their rival parties.
Following urban unrest in early 1960 negotiations were entered into and 'independence'
was granted with Lumumba as the first Prime Minister and Joseph Kasvubu as President.
Independence in the Congo quickly turned into a major crisis and a UN force (Opération
des Nations Unies au Congo
, or ONUC) was asked to intervene. The UN operation in the
Congo, from July 1960 to June 1964, was the biggest UN action since the war in Korea in
the early 1950s. The Congo crisis started with a mutiny in the former Belgian colonial
military establishment (Force Publique) that had become the Armé Nationale Congolaise
following independence. When troops attacked and killed a number of European officers,
the Belgian administrators, and other Europeans who had remained behind after
independence fled the country, opening the way for Congolese to replace the European
military and administrative elite. Shortly after this Moise Tshombe led a successful
secessionist effort to take the wealthy Katanga province out of the new nation. At the end
of 1960 President Kasa Vubu dismissed the new Prime Minister, Patrice Lumumba, and a
week later Colonel Joseph Mobutu seized power, holding it until February 1961 by which
time Lumumba had been killed.
Meanwhile, Belgian troops intervened to protect Belgian nationals as civil war spread in
the former Belgian colony. The assassination of Lumumba precipitated a Security
Council resolution on 21 February 1961 that conferred on ONUC the ability to use force
to stop the descent into civil war. Prior to this point ONUC had only been allowed to use
force in self-defense. During operations in the Congo, Secretary General Dag
Hammarskjöîld was killed in a plane crash and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
posthumously. Even with upwards of 20,000 UN-sponsored troops in the Congo,
however, a cease-fire was not agreed to and Katanga was not brought back into the
Congo until 1963. At the same time, all ONUC troops had been withdrawn by the end of
June 1964 in part because the UN itself was on the brink of bankruptcy (a result of the
61
Nzongola-Ntalaja, The Congo From Leopold to Kabila, 2002, pp, 85-89.
62
Ludo De Witte, The Assassination of Lumumba, London: Verso, 2002.


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