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The Adoula Government, August 1961 -July 1964

After extensive negotiations, parliament met at Lovanium University outside Leopoldville on July 25, 1961, with the participation of deputies from all provinces, including Katanga and South Kasai (which ended its secession at that time). On August 2, Cyrille Adoula, who was a moderate Belgian-style socialist, was elected prime minister by a unanimous vote of confidence, thus bringing to an end the constitutional crisis triggered by the conflict between Lumumba and Kasavubu.

Adoula was born in Leopoldville on 13 September 1921, but his parents were from the Budja area, located in the Bumba territory in Equateur Province. The son of a dockworker, he entered politics as a socialist at an early age and became leading trade unionist in the Congo as Secretary of the General Federation of Congo Workers, the first real trade union allowed by the Belgians before independence. In 1958, together with Patrice Lumumba, he formed the Mouvement National Congolais (MNC), which, with. Joseph Kasavubu's Abako, was the first organized politlcal group in the Congo. However, in July 1959, there was a split within the MNC and Adoula aligned himself against Lumumba with the group of moderates headed by Albert Kalondji.

After President Kasavubuts dismissal of Lumumba, Adoula became Minister of the Interior, until the first coup by Mobutu in September 13, 1960. Mr. Adoula came back to the political scene on August 1, 1961 when he was appointed as the Congo's third prime minister. His government represented virtually all factions in the country except that of Tshombe.

There remained the arduous task of resolving once and for all the Katangan secession, reducing the last vestiges of dissidence in Stanleyville, and elaborating the constitutional framework that would replace the Fundamental Law.

Adoula stayed in office in part because there have been no other leaders able and willing to take on the job. By mid 1962 his opponents were clearly becoming bolder, however; they found ammunition in popular dissatisfactions over the high living of government officials in the face of unemployment and hunger among the masses. The Congo's foreign exchange reserves were again near exhaustion, and there was talk of another devaluation.

In Leopoldville, Adoula tried to ward off the political attacks on his government by making another cabinet reorganization. The main attack has come from a coalition of extreme leftists led by Lumumbist Vice Premier Christophe Gbenye and "rightist" dissidents including Tshombé's Conakat deputies. The important Leopoldville Province party Abako, led by Congolese President Kasavubu, had also been antagonized by a bill which would make a federal district of Leopoldville city.

Adoula continued to have trouble in the provinces which nominally recognize his authority. Orientale, Kasai, and Kivu had been particularly troublesome, as pro- and anti-Adoula forces struggle for provincial power. In Orientale, Adoula had sought ever since the disintegration of the Gizenga regime there to establish a government more responsive to Leopoldville.

The cumulative effect of his government's failure to resolve Katangese problem which made it possible for all sorts of disparate elements in Parliament to combine against him. He faced prospect, aggravated by possible failure of U Thant plan, of seeing Parliament ranged against executive branch government and possible disappearance of central authority in Congo. With creation of new provinces new rivalries were breaking out among them. Selfish interests, including some Belgians, were abetting rivalries.

Parliamentarians were incredibly corrupt. By October 1962 the Government had discovered a massive new plot to create new secessionist Eastern state composed of parts of Orientale, Kivu and Katanga backed by 70 million francs from Tshombe. Much of this money had gone to Parliamentarians, and among other political figures, to Gbenye. Parliamentarians were so corrupt they expected payment for every vote.

With the breakoff of his third round of talks with Katanga's Tshombé in July 1962, Congolese Premier Adoula indicated his bewilderment over what to do next. Adoula' s frustrations arose out of the fact that he had neither forces nor finances to use against Tshombé, while the Katangan leader still had a 12,000—man, European-led gendarmerie and the tax revenues from the Belgian mining operations. The Congolese Army (ANC) was over twice as large as Tshombé's, but it continued to be undisciplined, without experienced leadership or sense of strategy, and utterly primitive in its logistics.

UN efforts to retrain it had never gotten under way. UN forces in two battles with the Katangans were bested in the first round by superior military capabilities; in the second, they were denied full victory by an international outcry against the fighting and Tshombé's announcement that he was willing to negotiate.

Not until January 1963, and only after a violent showdown with UN forces, was the secession of Katanga decisively crushed; and it took another year before the rival claimant to national power, the Stanleyville government, was brought to heel. Meanwhile, Adoula gave immediate priority to the task outlined in his inaugural declaration, "to take adequate measures permitting each region to administer itself according to its profound aspirations," and to initiate the constitutional revisions required by this objective.

The result was the elimination of the former six provinces and their replacement by twenty-one smaller administrative entities, known as provincettes. The new formula proved thoroughly unworkable, however. Reducing the size of the provinces merely shifted the focus of ethnic conflict to a smaller arena, a phenomenon further encouraged by the sheer arbitrariness of their boundaries and the emergence of several bitterly contested areas. While sharply reinforcing ethnic animosities, the creation of the new provincettes was made more problematic still by the dearth of competent administrators, frequent recourse to force and skulduggery, and rampant corruption.

Despite its inauspicious beginnings, the new arrangement was formalized in the new constitution adopted by referendum in June and July 1964. And arrangements were made to change the country's name to Democratic Republic of the Congo with effect from August 1, 1964. By then, however, many of the provincettes were in a state of semi-anarchy, and at least three had fallen into the hands of rebel forces. The stage was set for yet another trial of strength between the central government and dissident forces.

Adoula resigned from the premiership at the end of his mandate in June 1964 after having worked tirelessly for the unification of his country. Since Mobutu took the presidency in November 1965, Adoula, who had spent most of his time abroad under Tshombe's regime, resumed official functions and became first Ambassador in Brussels.

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Page last modified: 22-06-2015 21:02:03 ZULU