|Minister of Youth and Sports of the Republic of the Congo|
24 June 1960 – 14 September 1960
|Preceded by||position established|
|Member of the Chamber of Deputies|
for Lac Léopold II
1960 – 17 January 1961
|Born||12 September 1928|
Inongo, Belgian Congo
|Died||17 January 1961 (aged 32)|
Near Élisabethville, Katanga
|Political party||Mouvement National Congolais|
Maurice Mpolo (12 September 1928 – 17 January 1961) was a Congolese politician who served as Minister of Youth and Sports of the Republic of the Congo in 1960. He briefly led the Congolese army that July. He was executed alongside Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba in Katanga in 1961.
Maurice Mpolo was born on 12 September 1928[a] in Inongo, Belgian Congo. His father was Alphonse Membe. He had five years of primary education before studying as a novitiate for three years at the Fréres des Écoles Chrétiennes à Tumba. He later attended school in Léopoldville but was forced to drop out due to domestic problems. He became involved in several private enterprises and served in the colonial police force, though he was dismissed from duty on 10 September 1952 after being repeatedly reprimanded for displaying arrogance and indiscipline. Mpolo also worked as a journalist and was arrested by the Belgian administration for publishing opinions they considered "displaced", though he was freed after an appeal. He eventually became the president of the Léopoldville chapter of the Mouvement National Congolais (MNC) and participated in the Belgo-Congolese Round Table Conference in Brussels, Belgium on the organisation's behalf.
With the independence of the Republic of the Congo in June 1960, Mpolo was elected to the Chamber of Deputies as a representative from the Lac Léopold II District. He was subsequently appointed by Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba to be Minister of Youth and Sports, effectively becoming the government's chief propagandist. He briefly stood in for General Victor Lundula as commander in chief of the Armée Nationale Congolaise in July (earning the title of General) but got in a dispute with the army chief of staff, Colonel Joseph-Désiré Mobutu. On 28 July Mpolo was made a member of a cabinet committee established to handle Congolese relations with United Nations officials. On 13 September Lumumba declared him commander-in-chief of the ANC.
On 14 September, Mobutu launched a coup which "neutralised" Lumumba's government and created a new one. Mpolo attempted to undermine it and rivaled Mobutu for control of the army. On 23 September, Mpolo and Deputy Prime Minister Antoine Gizenga were arrested and plans were made to send them to secessionist Katanga. The United Nations (UN) put pressure on Mobutu to release them, which he did the following day. On 7 October, Lumumba announced that he had formed a new cabinet that included Mpolo as Minister of Defence. Mpolo told the press that he believed all of the conflicted parties in the central government would eventually unite. Angered by this, Mobutu dispatched troops to Mpolo's house, but he was nowhere to be found. Later that day Mpolo was able to return to his home unmolested and requested that the UN strengthen its guard at his residence.
Arrest and death
In late November Lumumba fled the capital to organise a new government in Stanleyville. He was captured before he could complete his escape and imprisoned at the army camp in Thysville. Mpolo also intended on reaching Stanleyville, but before he left he addressed a crowd of Lumumba's supporters at Lac Léopold II. With Mobutu's government fearing Mpolo's potential to rally support for his cause, troops were dispatched to find him and arrested him in Mushie. He was later transferred to Thysville, along with Vice President of the Senate Joseph Okito. On 17 January 1961, discipline in the base faltered and all three men were flown to Élisabethville, Katanga. Once there, they were brutally tortured at the hands of Moïse Tshombe and Godefroid Munongo, Lumumba's chief political rivals and the leaders of the secessionist state. That night, one by one they were lined up against a tree to be executed via firing squad. Mpolo was the second to be shot.
- Kashamura 1966, p. 86.
- Heinz & Donnay 1976, p. 10.
- Omasombo & Verhaegen 2005, p. 385.
- Omasombo & Verhaegen 2005, p. 391.
- Kanza 1994, p. 111.
- Brassinne 1989, paragraph 163.
- Kanza 1994, pp. 111–112.
- Gerard & Kuklick 2015, p. 198.
- Hoskyns 1965, p. 160.
- Gérard-Libois 1966, p. 143.
- Gerard & Kuklick 2015, p. 115.
- FBIS 1960, p. 100.
- FBIS 1960, p. 101.
- de Witte 2002, p. 93.
- Gondola 2002, pp. 126–127.
- de Witte 2002, p. 120.
- "50ème anniversaire de l'assassinat de Lumumba: Mpolo et Okito honoré" (in French). Radio Okapi. 17 January 2011. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
- Brassinne, Jacques (1989). "Les conseillers à la Table ronde belgo-congolaise". Courrier hebdomadaire du CRISP (in French). Brussels: Centre de recherche et d'information socio-politiques (1263–1264): 1–62. doi:10.3917/cris.1263.0001.
- Daily Report: Foreign Radio Broadcasts, Issues 196–200. Foreign Broadcast Information Service. 1960.
- Gerard, Emmanuel; Kuklick, Bruce (2015). Death in the Congo: Murdering Patrice Lumumba. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-72527-0.
- Gérard-Libois, Jules (1966). Katanga Secession (translated ed.). Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. OCLC 477435.
- Gondola, Ch. Didier (2002). The History of Congo. Greenwood histories of the modern nations (illustrated, annotated ed.). Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 9780313316968. ISSN 1096-2905.
- Heinz, G.; Donnay, H. (1976). Lumumba Patrice: les cinquante derniers jours de sa vie (in French). Centre de recherche et d'information socio-politiques.
- Hoskyns, Catherine (1965). The Congo Since Independence: January 1960 – December 1961. London: Oxford University Press. OCLC 414961.
- Kanza, Thomas R. (1994). The Rise and Fall of Patrice Lumumba: Conflict in the Congo (expanded ed.). Rochester, Vermont: Schenkman Books, Inc. ISBN 0-87073-901-8.
- Kashamura, Anicet (1966). De Lumumba aux colonels (in French). Paris: Buchet. OCLC 465788990.
- Omasombo, Jean Tshonda; Verhaegen, Benoît (2005). Patrice Lumumba: acteur politique: de la prison aux portes du pouvoir, juillet 1956-février 1960 (in French). Harmattan. ISBN 9782747563925.
- de Witte, Ludo (2002). The Assassination of Lumumba (illustrated ed.). Verso. ISBN 9781859844106.