Democratic Republic of the Congo After World War II

Democratic Republic of the Congo After World War II

According to Source Makeup, the post-war period saw prodigious economic development, which is condensed into the following figure: national income increased, between 1950 and 1956, by 69%, i.e. with an annual average of over 10%, stabilizing in 1956 at over 49 billion Congolese francs. On average, from 1948 onwards, capital of eleven billion has been invested annually, compared with one billion before the war. In 1957 it was estimated that a total of 130 billion francs had been invested in Democratic Republic of the Congo Belga after the war, almost all of Belgian origin, despite the open door regime established by the Berlin Act of 1885 for the so-called Conventional Basin of Congo. In turn, the Belgian government, as of 1957, had invested over 30 billion for economic and social infrastructures (ports, roads, hospitals, schools, etc.). The trade balance has always been in surplus by a few billion in recent years, while that of payments was up to 1955, then becoming deficit in the following years, with a hint, however, at the end of 1958, to recover. Economic, social and scholastic development was framed in a ten-year plan (1950-59).

Political-constitutional evolution, on the other hand, did not go hand in hand with economic development, at least until 1959. The paternalistic and empirical conception of government, concerned more with economic problems than with political ones, as well as the lack of decisive guidelines and Politico-constitutional programs continued to characterize the situation. The constitution of 1908 did not undergo substantial modifications until 1959. In 1946 a Council of State was created for both Belgium and Democratic Republic of the Congo with a dual function: consultative in legislative matters and judicial in administrative matters. With decrees of 10 July 1947 and 13 February 1957, the central and peripheral organs of the administration in the Congo were reorganized. A Governing Council has been created consisting of 65 members, part ex officio, partly appointed and partly elected. It has consultative functions on a very wide range of subjects and a permanent Delegation is set up within it, which closely assists the Governor General with his advice and proposals. Provincial councils and district councils have also been established (the district is a subdivision of the provinces).

But the administrative reforms were no longer sufficient to satisfy the indigenous political movements that had emerged from 1955 onwards. The creation of the French Community (September 1958) and the resolutions passed at the Pan-African Conference in Accra (December 1958) had an immediate repercussion in the Congo. Following a violent speech delivered in Léopoldville by Patrice Lumumba, head of the Congolese National Movement, on his return from Accra, very serious unrest broke out in that city (January 5, 1959). The episode was like a wake-up call for the Belgian government, which, through a speech by King Baudouin (13 January) and a statement by the Minister for the Belgian Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda Urundi (16 October 1959), hastened to take action and formulate a plan of constitutional reforms, which should have resulted in the granting of a Congolese parliament and government by September 1960, but they did not meet the approval of the Congolese parties. Municipal elections were held in December 1959 in all six provinces (boycotted in Lower Congo). On January 20, 1960, a Round Table Conference with 81 Congolese delegates, 6 members of the government and various Belgian parliamentarians met in Brussels in order to outline a new constitution for the Congo. At the close of the proceedings (February 20), the Conference approved the creation of the independent republic of Congo.

It was proclaimed on 30 June 1960 in the presence of King Baudouin of Belgium and, according to the provisional organic law approved on 18 May 1960 by the Belgian Parliament, the system of government is bicameral (senate and chamber of deputies) with a government responsible before the parliament and an elected head of state.

From this moment, and above all from the Thysville mutiny of 5 July, a serious crisis of an internal nature and of vast international repercussions opened in Democratic Republic of the Congo At the bottom of all this there is undoubtedly the extreme immaturity, indeed nonexistence, of a Congolese ruling class. This shortage of elites – underlined by the almost total lack of graduates, doctors, administrators, etc. – meant that the country immediately found itself at the mercy of exalted extremists badly dominated by the government chaired by Patrice Lumumba. First of all, a huge, uncontrolled anti-Belgian and more broadly xenophobic wave emerged, which, not dominated by government troops, sparked terrible riots and exposed whites to slaughter. On 9 July in an attempt to protect a group of compatriots, the Italian consul in Élisabethville Tito Spoglia lost his life. Moreover, almost immediately, Democratic Republic of the Congo’s relations with Brussels were broken (July 14). While the Belgian troops began to be withdrawn, already with the Soviet note of 13 July 1960, Democratic Republic of the Congo became one of the various battlegrounds between the opposing blocs, for the Soviet accusations directed at the Western powers of wanting to carry out interventions of a “colonial” nature. Two days later, on the strength of this support, the President of the Republic Kasavubu and the Prime Minister P. Lumumba, denouncing a hypothetical Belgian “plot” against the independence of Democratic Republic of the Congo, proposed to N. Khrushchev a possible request for intervention and on the same day they obtained the assurance that the Soviet government would lend the Republic of Congo “all the assistance that may be necessary…”. In this chaotic situation on July 14 – also in relation to the proposals for a federal Congolese state, made at the Round Table Conference – Moïse Tshombe proclaimed the

Faced with this serious internationalized crisis and while aid from the Communist bloc began to arrive by plane, the UN Security Council with its resolutions of 14 and 21 July decided to send its troops to C .; the same secretary general D. Hammarskjöld with the deputy secretary R. Bunche did their utmost – on the diplomatic and military level – to dominate the situation. Gradually, while the Belgians withdrew completely, units of “blue helmets” of the UN – preferably drawn from African countries – extended their occupation to the whole of Democratic Republic of the Congo and also entered Katanga, without prejudice to the controversy between Léopoldville and Élisabethville. Brought before the UN, the Congolese question was discussed by the General Assembly, which on September 19 adopted a resolution,

Meanwhile, Lumumba’s policy provoked the reaction of the military, who, under the leadership of Colonel Mubutu, ended up taking control of the situation (September 14, 1960). When the government chaired by Lumumba was dissolved and a Committee of government commissioners appointed in its place, the parliament was dissolved, Lumumba himself was practically placed under arrest in his home, then imprisoned (December 1960) following an attempted escape; the situation of Democratic Republic of the Congo seemed to be controlled by the Kasavubu-Mubutu duo, but the Eastern Province nevertheless proclaimed its independence by taking decisive part in Lumumba.

Democratic Republic of the Congo After World War II