Belgium 'sorry' for killing of Lumumba

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The Independent Online

Belgium formally apologised yesterday for its role in the assassination of the Congolese independence leader Patrice Lumumba in 1961.

In a symbolic gesture of reconciliation with its former colony, the Belgian Foreign Minister, Louis Michel, read the apology during a parliamentary debate on a report into the killing of Lumumba, the republic's first prime minister.

The parliamentary report, released in November after an 18-month inquiry, failed to link the Belgian government directly to the killing. But it found ministers bore a "moral responsibility" by failing to act to prevent the assassination after Lumumba was captured by Congolese rivals.

"The government believes that the time has come to present to the family of Patrice Lumumba and the Congolese people its profound and sincere regrets and apologies for the sorrow that was inflicted upon them by this apathy," Mr Michel told parliament.

He said Belgium was donating €3.75m (£2.3m) to create a Patrice Lumumba Foundation to finance "conflict prevention" projects and study grants for Congolese youths. (AP)