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Moise Kapenda Tshombe

Tshombe, Moise Kapenda (mô-ēsˈ kəpĕnˈdä chōmˈbā) [key], 1919–69, political leader in Congo (Kinshasa). He was related to the royal family of the Lunda people and received his education at mission schools. In 1951 he was elected to the advisory provisional council of Katanga and later became (1959) president of the Belgian-supported Conakat, the strongest political party in Katanga. In 1960 he attended the Brussels Congo Conference, where he pressed for a loose federation of independent states in the Congo. In the general elections of 1960 Conakat gained control of the Katanga provincial legislature, and, when the Congo became an independent republic, Tshombe proclaimed Katanga's secession from the country. He worked closely with Belgian business interests, appointed a Belgian officer to command his army, and refused to cooperate with either the United Nations or the central government led by Patrice Lumumba. In Aug., 1960, he was elected president of Katanga; he maintained a large mercenary army to fight against UN troops. He was charged by a UN investigation commission with complicity in the murder (Jan., 1961) of Lumumba in Katanga. In Apr., 1961, Tshombe was arrested by the central government but was released when he pledged to reunite Katanga with the Congo. He quickly repudiated the promise and continued to defy the central government. Finally forced to capitulate, Tshombe went into exile in Europe in 1963. He returned, however, in 1964, and, in July, President Kasavubu named him premier of a government of national reconciliation. He served until Oct., 1965, when Kasavubu dismissed him. Accused (1966) of treason against the government, Tshombe went into exile in Spain and was sentenced (1967) to death in absentia. In June, 1967, a plane in which he was flying was hijacked to Algeria, where he was first jailed and then kept incommunicado until his death in 1969.

See his My Fifteen Months in Government (tr. 1967); biography by I. G. Colvin (1968).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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