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1961: Lumumba rally clashes with UK police

Mounted police in London have broken up a demonstration against the murder of ex Prime Minister of Congo Patrice Lumumba.

Fighting erupted outside the Belgian embassy in central London when the protesters, many carrying banners and placards in support of the deposed leader, began attacking officers and pelting them with clods of earth. Lighted newspapers were thrown under the mounted officers' horses.

Several officers and demonstrators were knocked over in the crush and trampled. Twenty-six people have been arrested and will appear before Marlborough Street magistrates tomorrow.

Mr Lumumba was Congo's first democratically elected leader in June 1960. But he was deposed after only four months in power, after losing the support of the army and rumours began circulating about his suspected communist sympathies.

Earlier this month, he was abducted and shot dead - despite the presence of Belgian and United Nations troops in Congo.

One report has claimed Mr Lumumba was shot by a Belgian soldier.

'Down with the UN'

Moscow has strongly condemned the killing and the Soviet authorities are demanding the sacking of the UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjoeld as "accomplice and organiser of the murder".

The demonstration in London began in Trafalgar Square with a meeting organised by the Movement for Colonial Freedom and the Committee of African Organisations.

About 4,000 demonstrators attended the rally. They shouted and cheered as the speakers criticised the new Congo regime, and then began shouting "Down with Belgium" and "Down with the United Nations".

Speakers included Labour MP Fenner Brockway and Kenneth Kaunda, leader of the Northern Rhodesian United National Independence party, Joshua Nkomo, leader of the Southern Rhodesian National Democratic party and Anthony Wedgwood Benn.

Later the crowd marched up Oxford Street and past Hyde Park Corner to the Belgian embassy in Belgravia.

Mr Brockway delivered a letter of protest - and the marchers were expected to continue up the King's Road. But they refused to move and instead charged the police line.

In Context
Twenty-four people subsequently appeared in court. The charges ranged from obstructing police to using threatening words and behaviour. Most received fines.

The death of Lumumba provoked demonstrations at Belgian embassies in a number of countries. In Belgrade, the Belgian embassy was sacked and in other cities, demonstrators marched with placards saying "You murdered Lumumba, Belgians!"

A Belgian government inquiry into the murder published in November 2001 found the murder of Lumumba and two of his lieutenants could not have taken place without the complicity of Belgian and American intelligence services.

In February 2002, the Belgian government made its first official apology for the assassinations and has set up a $3m fund to aid the development of democracy in what is now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo.


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