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September 08, 2008


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Idiotic doesn't begin to cover it. The assassination might have made sense as an act of spite, but it doesn't seem to have been even that. More like, the guy who greenlighted it was running on pure autopilot, acting in defense of a system that was already in a state of advanced collapse.

It's a rare example of me stopping myself from learning more about something because it was making me too damn depressed. Maybe now that I'm back.

Doug M.

The assassination wasn't as dumb as it looked. Rwagasore was an admirer of Patrice Lumumba (as was pretty much the entire Burundian intelligentsia, with good reason). After Lumumba was dead, his followers were still fighting on, and the Belgians didn't want Burundi to become a base for them. (Even after the murder, the Chinese briefly turned Bujumbura into a base
for arms shipments before the king kicked them out.)

BTW, while nobody believes the Belgian claim that they weren't behind the murder, they've confessed to(more like gloated about)almost every other horrible thing they did in Rwanda and Burundi at the time, and no evidence has ever surfaced that incriminates them. So it's possible that the murder was actually the Batares' idea and not the Belgians'.

Tzin, that's very interesting! But my impression is that the Belgians weren't focused on the Lumumbist (?) threat... which by late 1961 would have been receding anyway, Lumumba having been dead half a year at that point. Rather, they wanted to be sure the right sort would take power in the new Burundi.

I could certainly be wrong about this; my education is recent and, umm, really skimpy. But even if they were concentrated on stopping Lumumbism, that just pushes the stupid back a step; Belgium's interests in Burundi were pretty minimal, and not worth wrecking the place on their way out the door.

Belgian involvement: yeah, it seems to have been more of a "who will rid me of this priest" type of deal, with possibly a wink, nod and backslap thrown in. Not the "elderly Belgian ex-colonial force officer smiles wistfully as he pulls three of Lumumba's teeth out of his pocket" sort of deal that went down in Congo.

The Prince has posthumously become a unifying figure, BTW; you see his picture everywhere. Though since he was a Hutuphile Tutsi aristocrat, there are probably all sorts of weird undercurrents that I'm not picking up on.

Doug M.

The Lumumbaists were active -- and still fighting Mobutu's army -- for almost four years after Lumumba was dead. Almost all of them were based in East Congo (and another group, called the Simbas, took up arms in East Congo against Mobutu in 1964). So the Belgians did have real concerns...

...of course, a lot of it was very exaggerated. "If Burundi falls, the Congolese domino will fall next!" Just
like how Vietnam falling would lead to Communism in Indonesia and Hawaii.

I actually did a SHWI post on Rwagasore once, although it only got one response.

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