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WEB POSTED 03-19-2002

 
 

 

 

Lumumba's family turns down Belgian apology

CAIRO (PANA)—Family members of the former Congolese leader, Patrice Lumumba, have denied accepting a recent apology from the Belgian government for its role in the assassination of Mr. Lumumba, an Egyptian paper reported March 3.

The weekly Al-Arabi quotes Mr. Lumumba’s son, Patrice P. Lumumba, as saying that contrary to reports, "we have not accepted any apology from the Belgian government." According to Al-Arabi, Patrice P. Lumumba said the Belgian government has invited him and his family to a future session of the Belgian Parliament in memory of their father. Patrice P. Lumumba, who has lived in Egypt for 34 years, revealed that "just before his assassination in 1961, my father asked former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser to take care of his children," the weekly Al-Arabi added.

"My father was convinced that my brothers and I would be killed, one after the other, if we happened to be by his side at the time of his arrest. He was really worried about our safety. Initially, my father considered the idea of sending each of us to a different African country run by friends of his, such as Nkrumah and Sekou Toure, but then decided to send us to Egypt to be taken care of by Nasser," said Patrice P. Lumumba, who was 9- years-old when he arrived in Cairo for the first time in 1961.

The elder Lumumba’s children left their country through the assistance of the then Egyptian charge d’affaires in Kinshasa, Mohammed Abdul Aziz Ishak and Saad Eddine Shazli, an Egyptian army officer serving at the time under the UN command, Al Arabi reported, quoting Mr. Lumumba’s son.

"My father was under house arrest when we left our home in the middle of the night in a UN car. We left the country thanks to the Egyptian charge d’affaires who managed to register us in a new passport as his children from an African wife," said Patrice P. Lumumba.

The airport of Kinshasa was under the joint control of the UN and former dictator Mobutu Sese Seko’s forces, added Lumumba, the son.

"We reached Cairo after flying to Algiers and Barcelona and then Switzerland," he said, adding, "my mother and youngest brother joined us later in 1961 and we all lived together in a residential area in Cairo known as Zamalek for 34 years."

"The first time we returned to our country was after Mobutu promised to democratize the country and invited Lumumba’s children to be part of what he called a new political life," Patrice P. Lumumba said.

The African nationalist leader was ousted from office, and then arrested in 1960, with the active complicity of Western intelligence services and troops. The newly independent country had been until June 1960 under the colonial rule of Belgium, which played a key role in ousting the elder Lumumba from office by supporting a secessionist movement in the mineral-rich province of Katanga.

It also provided active support to Mr. Mobutu, who arrested Mr. Lumumba and handed him over to his assassins just after the country’s independence. Belgium recently apologized for the part it played in the politics of DR Congo following the country’s independence in1960.

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