Sub-Saharan Africa 1960: UN Operation in the Congo
United Nations forces arrived in the Congo in late July 1960, replacing the Belgian troops there. However, the UN refused to support the Congolese government against secessionist Katanga nor would it publicly denounce Belgium’s continued meddling in the Congo, much to the frustration of Congolese PM Lumumba.
The Two Republic of Congos 1960-64
During this period, Congo (Brazzaville) was called the 'Republic of Congo' and Congo (Leopoldville/Kinshasa) was called the 'Republic of the Congo'. For both the sake of simplicity and to avoid confusion, we always refer to Congo (Brazzaville) as the 'Republic of Congo' and Congo (Kinshasa) - the center of attention in Africa during this period - as simply 'the Congo'.
16-23 Jul 1960 UN deployment in Congo▲
In conjunction with United Nations Security Council Resolution 143, the first troops of the Organisation des Nations Unies au Congo (ONUC or United Nations Organization in the Congo) arrived in the Congo on 16 July 1960. On 19 July UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld announced that Belgium had agreed to completely withdraw its forces from the Léopoldville area within 4 days. By 20 July 3,500 troops for the ONUC - almost entirely from Morocco, Tunisia, Ghana, and Ethiopia - were in the country and spread out to every province except for secessionist Katanga.
1 Aug 1960 Independence of Dahomey▲
On 1 August 1960 the Republic of Dahomey gained independence from France and left the French Community. From the start, the narrow country was troubled by economic problems, unemployment, and factional and tribal divisions. Hubert Maga, whose power base was in the north, became the first president, but would last only until October 1963, when he was overthrown in a coup by southeastern leader, Sourou-Migan Apithy.
3 Aug 1960 Independence of Niger▲
On 3 August 1960 the Republic of Niger became formally independent from France, leaving the French Community. In November Prime Minister Hamani Diori was elected as Niger’s first president. Diori would remain in power until he was overthrown by a coup in 1974.
4-12 Aug 1960 UN deployment to Katanga▲
On 4 August 1960 Ralph Bunche, head of the Organisation des Nations Unies au Congo
(ONUC), flew to the separatist State of Katanga to negotiate the establishment of a UN presence by 6 August. However while he was in talks with Katangan President Moise Tshombe on 5 August, Belgian officials interrupted them, urging him to leave the state immediately as the Katangans were threatening to open fire on a plane attempting to land with UN troops. Despite Bunche’s forced departure, UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld publicly rejected the idea that Belgium was orchestrating the crisis, to the fury of the Congolese government. On 12 August Hammarskjöld himself arrived in the Katangan capital of Élisabethville with a contingent of UN troops; the UN soon began replacing Belgian troops in the state, although Belgian advisors, officers, and mercenaries remained.
5 Aug 1960 Independence of Upper Volta▲
On 5 August 1960 the Republic of Upper Volta gained full independence from France, withdrawing from the French Community. Its first president was Maurice Yaméogo, who had led the country since 1959. In 1966 Yaméogo’s corrupt regime would be overthrown by a peaceful protest organized by the unions, traditional chieftains, and the clergy.