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Friday, 16 November, 2001, 17:47 GMT
Belgium link in Lumumba death
Assassinated Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba
Patrice Lumumba (right) was abducted and killed
A Belgian parliamentary committee says some former Belgian ministers bear a "moral responsibility" in the 1961 assassination of Congo's first elected leader, Patrice Lumumba.

But after an 18-month inquiry, the committee failed to link the government directly to the killing.

"Certain members of the Belgian Government and other Belgian figures have a moral responsibility in the circumstances which led to the death of Lumumba," the committee said in its report. It did not mention names.

The Congo, now the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), was a Belgian colony until independence in 1960. Under the regime of Mobutu Sese Seko, it was known as Zaire.

In no document or witness account could be found that the Belgian Government, or one of its members, gave the orders to physically eliminate Lumumba

Belgian parliamentary committee
The 1961 assassination of Lumumba, Congo's first democratically elected leader, remains mysterious.

In the chaos and factional fighting after independence, Lumumba was abducted by Congolese rivals, taken to the breakaway province of Katanga and killed.

Two years ago, a book claimed Belgium had been responsible for the logistics behind the killing.

Earlier theories had also speculated that the United States may have been involved, or that Lumumba could have been killed by political rivals.

Assassinated Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba
Lumumba: Liberator or agitator?
The parliamentary inquiry was seen as a way for Belgium to come to terms with its colonial past, correspondents said.

The inquiry revealed the Belgian establishment's enmity for Lumumba, but did not establish that anyone in the government had ordered his killing.

"In no document or witness account could be found that the Belgian Government, or one of its members, gave the orders to physically eliminate Lumumba," the report concluded.

Lumumba was a controversial figure, seen by some as an African liberator, while others viewed him as a pro-Soviet agitator at a time when Cold War thinking tended to dominate western foreign policy, analysts said.

See also:

02 May 00 | Africa
Belgium probes Lumumba's death
24 Apr 00 | Africa
Lumumba's son arrested
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