Cyrille Adoula

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Cyrille Adoula
Cyrille Adoula 1963.jpg
Prime Minister of Congo-Léopoldville
In office
2 August 1961 – 30 June 1964
President Joseph Kasa-Vubu
Deputy Jason Sendwe
Antoine Gizenga
Jean Bolikango
Preceded by Joseph Iléo
Succeeded by Moise Tshombe
Personal details
Born 13 September 1921
Léopoldville, Belgian Congo
(Now Kinshasa, Congo-Kinshasa)
Died 24 May 1978(1978-05-24) (aged 56)
Lausanne, Switzerland
Political party Mouvement National Congolais (1958–1959)
Mouvement National Congolais-Kalonji (1959–1964)
Rassemblement des démocrates congolaise (1964)

Cyrille Adoula (13 September 1921 – 24 May 1978), was a Congolese trade unionist and politician. He was the prime minister of the Republic of the Congo, from 2 August 1961 until 30 June 1964.

Early life and career[edit]

Cyrille Adoula was born to middle-class Bangala parents on 13 September 1921 in Léopoldville, Belgian Congo.[1] He attended a Catholic primary school in his youth and received secondary education at St. Joseph's Institute, graduating after five years of studies in 1941.[2] That year he began working as a clerk for various commercial firms. He did this until 1952 when he accepted a senior position at the Belgian Congo Central Bank, the first African to hold a significant post there. In 1948 he became a member of the Conseil pour le Travail et la Prevoyance Sociale Indigene (Council for Labour and Native Social Security).[3]

In 1954 Adoula joined the Belgian Socialist Party and subsequently became the representative for Action Socialiste in the capital. He also enrolled in the Fédération Générale du Travail de Belgique (General Federation of Belgian Labour). Once he became one of the top Congolese delegates in the association he resigned from his bank post and committed his time to politics.[3] In 1957 he attended the International Labour Conference in Geneva as an adviser to the Belgian delegation. At a General Federation conference in 1959 he successfully lobbied for the Congolese branch of the association to become independent, subsequently becoming secretary-general of the new federation's western chapter. In this capacity he traveled to West Germany and Israel to meet with other trade unionists and became a deputy committee member of the International Congress of Federated Trade Unions.[4]

Entry into national politics[edit]

In 1958 Adoula, Patrice Lumumba, and Joseph Iléo formed the Mouvement National Congolais (MNC), with Adoula becoming party vice president.[5] While Lumumba became increasingly strident and nationalistic, Adoula remained relatively moderate. In 1959, he and Albert Kalonji made an unsuccessful attempt to oust Lumumba from the party and formed their own faction, MNC-Kalonji.[3] With the independence of the Republic of the Congo the following summer, Adoula became a senator in Parliament, representing the city of Coquilhatville.[6] He requested that his membership of the International Congress of Federated Trade Unions be suspended so that he could devote his time to his new position. Nevertheless he remained well connected with trade unions and labour organizations.[4]

The Congo fell into disorder shortly after independence, as the army's mutiny and the secession of the Katanga Province under Moïse Tshombe created the Congo Crisis. Adoula increasingly distanced himself from Lumumba, who had become prime minister, but continuously lobbied that the United Nations Operation in the Congo use force to put down the rebellion in the proclaimed State of Katanga. President Joseph Kasa-Vubu dismissed Lumumba in September and appointed Iléo to be his replacement, though Parliament refused to confirm him. Adoula briefly served as Iléo's minister of interior.[7] Lumumba was definitively removed from power and eventually killed in a coup by Colonel Joseph Mobutu, who forced a new government upon Kasa-Vubu. Adoula began attracting interest from the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as a liberal, anti-communist alternative to Lumumba.[6]

In early 1961, the United States began to push for an Adoula-led government. United States Secretary of State Dean Rusk directed CIA agents to ensure that Adoula would become the next Congolese prime minister.[8] The CIA acted in concert with other Western intelligence agencies in bribing Congolese parliamentarians to support Adoula. Following appointment by Kasa-Vubu, Adoula was formally confirmed by Parliament as prime minister on 2 August 1961.[5]

As prime minister[edit]

Cyrille Adoula with United States President John F. Kennedy in 1962

Once prime minister, Cyrille Adoula sought to bring together a coalition government to help reunify the Congo. He managed to balance his cabinet with many former Lumumba supporters.[6] Antoine Gizenga became deputy prime minister.[9] Still, as his tenure progressed, Adoula faced a growing amount of opposition from the nationalist elements of MNC-Lumumba and Gizenga's faction of the Parti Solidaire Africain.[10] As 1961 drew to a close, several Lumumba sympathisers withdrew from Adoula's government and Gizenga retired to Stanleyville.[11] Gizenga's persisting counter-government in the east represented the first major challenge to Adoula's authority.[10] In January 1962, Adoula was able to successfully arrest Gizenga. He subsequently removed the remaining Lumumba supporters from his government, thereby excluding the largest political force in the country from power.[11]

Following the defeat of Katanga, Adoula organized a new "Government of Reconciliation" in April 1963.[12]

On an international level, Adoula pursued a policy of neutrality.[13] On 4 September 1961 he attended the Belgrade Conference that resulted in the foundation of the Non-Aligned Movement.[14]

From Gizenga's arrest in early 1962 until Parliament's adjournment in September 1963, most of the dissent Adoula faced from the left came in the form of obstructionist activities in the legislative process. In October the radical Comité National de Libération (CNL) formed in Brazzaville with the goal of overthrowing Adoula's government. By December a CNL-instigated revolt had emerged in Kwilu Province.[10] The larger Simba rebellion of 1964 saw much of the eastern Congo overrun by leftist guerrilla forces.[6] During the run-up to new elections in the summer, three new political coalitions in the country emerged. One of these was Rassemblement des démocrates congolaise (RADECO), which consisted of 50 small organizations led by Jacques Mass. Adoula was elected as its president on 14 June.[15] Still unable to contain the leftist insurrections, Adoula was forced by Kasa-Vubu to resign.[6] He then voluntarily left the country.[16]

Later life and career[edit]

In a New Year's message at the beginning of 1965, Prime Minister Tshombe (Adoula's replacement) rejected conciliation with the rebels and called for their total defeat. Adoula dissented and put forth his own "African Plan" for the Congo in the weekly publication Jeune Afrique. He insisted that any long term solution for peace and stability required input from rebel leaders, emphasizing that since their defeat would require the use of European mercenaries, acting to suppress them would only increase the Congo's reliance on external forces. He also accused Tshombe of antagonizing opposition and called for the creation of a transitional government to oversee a settlement without him. Tshombe responded by blaming the conflict on Adoula, accusing him of weakening the central government and Balkanizing the country by dividing the six original provinces into 22 new ones.[17]

Adoula returned to the Congo following Mobutu's seizure of power in November 1965. He was accommodating of Mobutu's new regime and served as the Congolese ambassador to the United States and Belgium. From 1969–1970 he served as foreign minister and then retired from politics.[6] In 1978 Adoula suffered a heart attack and went to Lausanne, Switzerland for treatment.[7] He succumbed to an illness and died there on 24 May 1978.[6]


  1. ^ Sandiford 2008, p. 18
  2. ^ Segal 1962, p. 166
  3. ^ a b c Akyeampong & Gates 2012, p. 95
  4. ^ a b LaFontaine 1986, p. 220
  5. ^ a b Waters Jr. 2009, p. 2
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Akyeampong & Gates 2012, p. 96
  7. ^ a b Lentz 2014, p. 861
  8. ^ Paterson 1989, p. 263
  9. ^ Schmidt 2013, p. 69
  10. ^ a b c Young 1965, p. 345
  11. ^ a b Schmidt 2013, p. 69–70
  12. ^ O'Ballance 1999, p. 65
  13. ^ "Congo-Zaïre: l'empire du crime permanent, Adoula, l'homme du Conclave de Lovanium" (in French). Le Phare. 27 September 2013. Retrieved 30 March 2017. 
  14. ^ Oron 1961, p. 63
  15. ^ O'Ballance 1999, p. 68
  16. ^ Waters Jr. 2009, p. 3
  17. ^ O'Ballance 1999, p. 85


Political offices
Preceded by
Joseph Iléo
Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
2 August 1961 – 30 June 1964
Succeeded by
Moise Tshombe