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November 10, 1919|
Musumba, Democratic Republic of the Congo
|Died||June 29, 1969
|Known for||co-founded the CONAKAT party|
Tshombe was the son of a successful Congolese businessman and was born in Musumba, Congo. He received his education from an American missionary school and later trained as an accountant. In the 1950s, he took over a chain of stores in Katanga Province and became involved in politics, founding the CONAKAT party with Godefroid Munongo which ran under a banner of an independent, federal Congo.
In the general elections of 1960, CONAKAT won control of the Katanga provincial legislature. That same year, the Congo became an independent republic, and in the resulting strife, Tshombe and CONAKAT declared Katanga's secession from the rest of the Congo. See Congo Crisis.
The Christian, anti-communist, pro-Western Tshombe was elected president of Katanga in August 1960, and declared that "we are seceding from chaos." Favoring continued ties with Belgium, Tshombe asked the Belgian government to send military officers to recruit and train a Katangese army. The Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba and his successor Cyrille Adoula requested intervention from United Nations forces, which they never received.
Patrice Lumumba's government was overthrown and Lumumba taken prisoner by Mobutu and detained at Camp Hardy in Thysville. It has been alleged but never proved that, fearing Lumumba's increasing popularity amongst the soldiers who might release him (soldier mutinies and unrest increased by the day at prison camp Hardy in Thysville), Harold d'Aspremont Lynden (Belgian minister for African Affairs) sent a highly confidential telegram on January 16, 1961 to the government in Léopoldville (Kasavubu and Mobutu) to send Lumumba to Katanga. However, this telegram has never been shown to exist. While being flown in a Sabena DC-4 air plane to Katanga Lumumba was beaten by the Congolese soldiers escorting him. While in custody in Katanga Lumumba was visited by Katangese notables and Belgian officers which included Tshombe, Godefroid Munongo, Kibwe, Kitenge, Grandelet, Son, Gat, Huyghé, Tignée, Verscheure, Segers, Rougefort and others. Lumumba's execution was carried out by a firing squad led by Belgian mercenary Julien Gat.
In 1963, UN forces succeeded in capturing Katanga, driving Tshombe into exile in Northern Rhodesia, later to Spain. In July 1964 he returned to the Congo to serve as prime minister in a new Coalition government, but was dismissed from his position in October 1965 by President Joseph Kasavubu. In 1965, Prime Minister Joseph Mobutu, who had staged a successful coup against President Kasavubu, brought charges of treason against Tshombe, who again fled the country, and settled in Spain.
In 1967, he was sentenced to death in absentia[by whom?].
On June 30, 1967, a Hawker Siddley jet aircraft he was traveling in was hijacked[by whom?] to Algeria, where he was first jailed and then kept under house arrest until his death in June 1969, which is officially recorded as "death from heart failure". The pilots of the plane, two Englishmen, Trevor Coppleston and David Taylor, were released and returned to England. According to the Congolese government Tshombe was going to Africa. He is buried in Etterbeek cemetery near Brussels in Belgium.
In 1968, a mysterious plane load of mercenary soldiers had landed at Kariba Airfield in Rhodesia, and was said also to hold "an African President." Rumor spread that Tshombe had been rescued, but no proof ever came to light of any rescue attempt.
These rumors were the basis for Daniel Carney's book that later became the 1978 film The Wild Geese, which starred Richard Burton. In the film, Winston Ntshona plays a pro-western, deposed African president, who is imprisoned following the hijacking of his plane.
- Frank Villafaña Cold War in the Congo: The Confrontation of Cuban Military Forces 2009 Page 20 "The five-year smooth transition originally envisioned by Belgian politicians became a five-month reluctant and tumultuous ... not protect their interests, and nominated Moïse Tshombé, a wealthy plantation owner, as their man-in-Katanga."
- The Congo from Leopold to Kabila, Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja, 2002, ISBN 1-84277-053-5, accessed February 2009
- The Assassination of Lumumba, Ludo De Witte, 2003, ISBN 1-85984-410-3
- Gibbs, David N. (1991). The Political Economy of Third World Intervention. University of Chicago Press. pp. 152, 167–168. ISBN 0-226-29071-9.
- Katanga The UNtold Story UN troops wage an unprovoked war against anti communist Katanga 1960 – 1962
- Find-A-Grave biography
Further reading