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19 Jan 2004 09:43
The independence goals championed by Zaire’s first prime minister, Patrice Lumumba, remain unfulfilled in the country now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), his son said on Sunday, 43 years after the charismatic leader’s assassination.
“Forty-three years on, we are forced to recognise that the struggle which Lumumba undertook to liberate the Congolese people from all forms of servitude and to preserve the nation’s independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty, continues,” Francois Lumumba said.
Patrice Lumumba, a key figure in Zaire’s liberation from 75 years of Belgian rule, was murdered on January 17, 1961, in mysterious circumstances.
The socialist leader was overthrown after just four months in office, then killed shortly afterward in detention, at the age of 35, in a Cold War conspiracy widely blamed on the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
His body was never recovered but he is remembered as the only leader of his country to have been democratically elected.
In 2002 Belgium accepted partial responsibility for Lumumba’s death and made an official apology to the people of the DRC.
Political figures and the general public filled the Notre Dame du Congo cathedral in Kinshasa on Sunday for the memorial ceremony.
Francois Lumumba, his eldest son, vowed that his opposition movement would continue his father’s efforts.
The Congolese National Movement-Lumumba (MNC-L) party was given no posts in the current transition government, although Francois Lumumba is a senator in the parliament.
He praised Belgium for acknowledging its role in his father’s killing and added: “We are waiting for the same gesture from the Congolese state, so that this black page in our history may be turned for good.” - Sapa-AFP
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