Intelligence historian calls on MI6 to declassify Lumumba files
April 4, 2013 3 Comments
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
An historian whose book on British intelligence prompted the claim of Britain’s complicity in the 1961 assassination Patrice Lumumba has called for MI6 to declassify its secret files on the late Congolese Prime Minister. Calder Walton is a Cambridge University-educated intelligence historian whose first book, Empire of Secrets, examines the activities of British intelligence in the last days of the British Empire. A review of the book, published by Bernard Porter in The London Review of Books in March, prompted a claim that London had organized the assassination of the iconic pan-Africanist activist, who in 1960 had become Congo’s first democratically elected Prime Minister. Many believe that the United States had a hand in Lumumba’s assassination, which was aimed at preventing him from establishing close relations between uranium-rich Congo and the Soviet Union. But British Labour politician and Life peer Lord Lea of Crondall said in a letter published in response to the review of Walton’s book that Lumumba had been killed with the help of MI6, Britain’s primary external intelligence service. He claimed he had been told so by the late Baroness Park of Monmouth, who at the time of Lumumba’s death headed the Leopoldville station of MI6. In his book, Walton, who until 2009 served as research assistant for Professor Christopher Andrew’s authorized official history of MI5, Defence of the Realm, says it is unclear who organized Lumumba’s assassination. He argues that “at present, we do not know […] whether British plots to assassinate Lumumba […] ever amounted to anything”. But speaking to The London Times on Wednesday, the historian and author urged MI6 to declassify its internal archives on the Congolese leader. He told the paper that MI6 must be placed “in the position it deserves in the history of anti-colonial movements in Africa and elsewhere”, but that could only be done if MI6 “releases records from its own archives”. He added that Lord Lea’s claim about the involvement of MI6 in Lumumba’s assassination was “an interesting twist in this story” but that, barring a release of MI6 archival records, such claims would be “impossible to substantiate”. Lumumba was killed in January 1961, shortly after a coup carried out by American-backed Congolese Colonel Joseph Mobutu Sese Seko, who then ruled Congo with an iron fist until his death in 1997. He is widely revered today as a symbol of 20th-century African anti-colonialism.