Force Publique - Post-Independence


On 5 July 1960, five days after the country gained independence from Belgium, the Force Publique garrison near Léopoldville mutinied against its white officers (who had remained in complete command) and attacked numerous European and Congolese targets. The immediate incident sparking the mutiny was reported to have been a tactless speech made by the Belgian general commanding the FP to African soldiers in a mess hall at the main base outside Léopoldville, in which he stated that Independence would not bring any change in their status or role. Lieutenant General Ēmile Janssens' intention may only have been to stress the need for continued discipline and obedience to orders but the impact on the soldiers, unsettled by the demands of maintaining order during Independence celebrations and fearful that they would be excluded from the benefits of the new freedom, was disastrous. The outbreak caused fear amongst the approximately 100,000 Belgian and other civilians and officials still resident in the Congo and ruined the credibility of the new government as it proved unable to control its own armed forces. For example, the white community in Luluabourg was besieged in improvised fortifications for three days until rescued by a Belgian Army paratroop drop.

Soon afterwards, the FP was renamed as the Congolese National Army (Armée Nationale Congolaise (ANC)), and its leadership was Africanised. This violence immediately led to a military intervention into Congo by Belgium in an ostensible effort to secure the safety of its citizens (the earlier Luluabourg intervention had been against orders). The re-entry of these forces was a clear violation of the national sovereignty of the new nation, as it had not requested Belgian assistance (see Congo Crisis). The chain of events this started eventually resulted in Joseph Mobutu (Mobutu Sésé Seko), a former Sergeant-Major in the FP who had been promoted to Chief of staff of the ANC by Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba, gaining power and establishing his dictatorial kleptocracy. His regime was to remain in power until May 1997.

Read more about this topic:  Force Publique