HC Deb 29 January 1962 vol 652 cc698-700
17. Mr. P. Williams

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will make a further statement on the position in the Congo.

45. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will now make a further statement on the present situation in the Congo.

Mr. Heath

Since my last statement Mr. Adoula and Mr. Tshombe have signed an agreement at Kitona, which is now being considered by the Katanga Assembly. Discussions, including Katanga representatives, are now taking place in Leopoldville on a revision of the Congolese constitution. Talks about mercenaries have been held between the United Nations and Mr. Tshombe, who has dismissed a number of mercenaries, including their leader.

In Northern Katanga Congolese troops owing allegiance to Mr. Gizenga were responsible for the massacre of priests at a Catholic Mission. Another mission at Sola, in South Kivu, was also attacked but the missionaries there are reported to have escaped into the bush. General Lundula is flying to Kongolo with a group of United Nations officials to investigate.

Mr. Gizenga has been dismissed from his post of Vice-Premier, his gendarmerie bodyguard in Stanleyville has been defeated by Congolese Army troops loyal to General Lundula, and he has been taken to Leopoldville where he is now in a military camp outside the town.

Mr. Williams

Will my right hon. Friend recall that a few moments ago when talking about Germany he used words to the effect that it was necessary to give a chance of self-determination and free decision? Will he give an assurance to the House that the same chance will be open to Katanga?

Mr. Heath

The view of the Government about Katanga as a province of the State of the Congo has always been made plain. We do not support the secession of the province of Katanga from the Congo.

Mr. Henderson

Can the Minister say whether the Acting Secretary-General has withdrawn his request for the stationing of observers on the Katanga-Rhodesian border, and, if so, has he given any reason?

Mr. Heath

I understand that the Acting Secretary-General still has this matter under consideration.

Mr. Brockway

Can the right hon. Gentleman clear up the position of Mr. Gizenga? Is he aware that he was residing under United Nations protection and has been handed over to Colonel Mobutu? Is he aware of the considerable apprehension which exists in view of the fact that Colonel Mobutu handed Lumumba over to Tshombe and that a similar happening may possibly occur in the case of Mr. Gizenga?

Mr. Heath

The information we have is that when he arrived at Leopoldville Mr. Gizenga asked for United Nations protection and this was given. He then asked to leave their protection and go to live in Leopoldville, and that was entirely his own responsibility.

Mr. H. Wilson

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we all very much welcome the statement made by Mr. Tshombe about his decision to clear out the mercenaries? In view of the desirability of this becoming 100 per cent. effective, would the right hon. Gentleman take very seriously the obligation and duty of Her Majesty's Government to see that the frontier is closed to any possible movement of mercenaries in that area?

Sir G. Nicholson

My right hon. Friend has said that Her Majesty's Government do not support the secession of Katanga. Will he clear up the situation? Does that mean that Her Majesty's Government are for or against the use of force to prevent the secession of Katanga? Does Her Majesty's Government admit the right of any portion of the Congo to self-determination?

Mr. Heath

Her Majesty's Government have always indicated their view—this has been the cause of controversy in the House—that these matters should be dealt with by conciliation.