RDC-Lumumba: de l’élimination politique à la mise à mort.

2 décembre 1960: le Premier ministre déchu Patrice Lumumba de retour à Léopoldville après son arrestation

Le camp occidental s’est persuadé, tout au long de l’année 1960, que Patrice Lumumba servait les intérêts du bloc de l’Est et que sa présence à la tête de l’État congolais était une menace. Sa neutralisation politique puis sa mise en détention ne suffisent pas à calmer les inquiétudes de ses adversaires. Beaucoup craignent que Lumumba soit libéré, qu’il puisse organiser depuis Stanleyville une rébellion et qu’il revienne au pouvoir. C’est dans ce contexte que son transfert au Katanga sera déclenché.

Plusieurs plans ont été imaginés pour neutraliser Lumumba, aucun ne semble pouvoir se concrétiser. Ce sont les Congolais qui reprennent l’initiative. Le 5 septembre 1960, dans la soirée, Joseph Kasa-Vubu prend la parole à la radio de Léopoldville [actuelle Kinshasa] pour annoncer qu’il démet Patrice Lumumba de ses fonctions, et demande au président du Sénat, Joseph Ileo, de former un nouveau gouvernement. Le conseiller belge de Kasa-Vubu, Jef Van Bilsen, a obtenu des Nations unies qu’elles ferment la station de radio et les aéroports. Lumumba ne tarde cependant pas à répliquer : le 7, devant la chambre congolaise, il démonte la mécanique du coup institutionnel de Kasa-Vubu.

Ce bras de fer relance la réflexion sur les actions à mener pour neutraliser le Premier ministre. Le ministre belge des Affaires étrangères Pierre de Wigny, écrit à la représentation belge de Brazzaville, devenue base arrière de la lutte anti-nationaliste : « Les autorités constituées ont le devoir de mettre Lumumba hors d’état de nuire. » Trois jours plus tard, le colonel Louis Marlière, l’un des principaux hommes de la Belgique sur le terrain, revient vers les autorités politiques : « Plan à l’étude pour action à Léo en accord avec gouvernement Iléo  succès très possible si exécutants aussi décidés en actes qu’en paroles. » Une autre option est également présentée : « plan Barracuda sera soumis à l’examen commandant Dedeken E’ville à exécuter sans participation gouvernement congolais. » Selon le chercheur Ludo De Witte, Marlière doit assurer la coordination de ce plan. Il sera appuyé par un spécialiste des renseignements et un officier d’une unité commando. Le ministre belge des Affaires africaines a donné le feu vert pour l’opération et appréciera l’opportunité de l’élimination de Lumumba. Mais barracuda se perdra dans les méandres de l’action secrète.

Un autre acteur a déjà pris la main. Le 14 septembre, dans la soirée, le colonel Mobutu annonce à la radio qu’il neutralise les politiciens jusqu’au 31 décembre. Il le fait avec la bénédiction de Larry Devlin, le chef de poste de la CIA. Devlin affirme avoir engagé les États-Unis aux côtés de ce coup de force lors d’une rencontre imprévue avec Justin Bomboko et Joseph-Désiré Mobutu, sans avoir eu le temps de demander l’avis de Washington. Un collège de commissaires est créé. Le 10 octobre, Mobutu ordonne l’encerclement du domicile de Lumumba situé dans l’ancienne résidence du gouverneur général. Le bâtiment est désormais entouré d’une double ceinture de militaires : les casques bleus directement autour du domicile du Premier ministre déposé et un cordon de soldats de l’Armée nationale congolaise (ANC).

Joseph-Désiré Mobutu, chef de l’armée congolaise, le 16 septembre 1960.

Entretemps, les plans d’empoisonnement de Lumumba par la centrale de la CIA se sont accélérés. Larry Devlin reçoit le 19 septembre un câble du quartier général lui annonçant l’arrivée prochaine à Léopoldville d’un officier supérieur qui se présentera comme « Joe de Paris » et sera porteur d’instructions verbales à mettre en œuvre. Le 21 septembre, Allen Dulles présente au Conseil de sécurité national un nouvel état de la situation au Congo. Il estime que le danger d’une influence soviétique reste présent et que Lumumba continue à représenter une menace, même s’il a été déposé.

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