Patrice Lumumba

Patrice Lumumba

Patrice Lumumba   

(2 July 1925- 17 January 1961)

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Patrice Emery Lumumba was the first democratically elected prime minister of Congo. He was born in the Kasai province of Belgian Congo. He was raised in a catholic family with 4 siblings. He got married in 1951 to Pauline Opangu and by 1955 he joined the liberal party of Belgium. He was also arrested in 1955 for embezzlement and was released in July 1956.

 

In 1958 he became the leader of the MNC (Mouvement National Congolais) party. The party promoted independence, economic development and a lack of bias in foreign affairs. Due to his charisma and oratorical skills, his party had a lot of supporters. He was known for his pan-Africanist beliefs.

 

In 1959 he was sentenced to 69 months in prison for fueling a riot against colonialism. On the 23rd of June 1960, he was announced as the winner of the elections and the first prime minister of Congo. The country’s independence is celebrated on the 30th of June 1960.

 

As prime minister, he raised the pay of all government officials except Force Publique (a military personnel set up by king Leopold). The force de Publique was full of Belgian only officers and Lumumba was considering recruiting Congolese officers as well. This caused the soldiers to riot and this fueled the Congo crisis. The country soon became overrun with angry soldiers.

 

Lumumba added Congolese soldiers and appointed Congolese heads of the force as well as changing the name to Armee Nationale Congolese. Most European officials were replaced; this sparked a nationwide riot that led to the killing of over 20 Europeans. Belgium deployed troops to Congo to defend only their citizens who fled to the Katanga Province, because of its natural resources. The Belgian soldiers clashed with the Congolese soldiers and Belgium tried to declare Katanga Independent and Lumumba was not pleased with this.

 

The president dismissed Lumumba in order to avoid a coup. Lumumba challenged this order publicly. On the 14th of September 1960 in a coup led by Colonel Mobutu, Lumumba was deposed and kept under house arrest.

 

Lumumba was later assassinated by firing squad by Belgian soldiers acting as Katanga authorities. His corpse was dismembered with some of it dissolved in Sulfuric acid.

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