13 February 1961
Patrice Lumumba gained the reputation of being a powerful and charismatic leader during his brief reign as Zaire's first Prime Minister (the former Belgian Congo, now the Democratic Republic of Congo). In 1958 he formed and led the Movement National Congolais (MNC), which sought a unitary state while its main opponents opted for a form of federalism. In the May 1960 elections, the MNC emerged as the strongest single party with 33 of the 137 seats. Lumumba became Prime Minister in June with an uncomfortable coalition with his rival, Joseph Kasavubu, who became President.

The independent Republic of the Congo was declared on 30 June 1960. The complete breakdown of order immediately after independence was due in part to Lumumba's excessive rhetoric, and was followed by the attempted secession of the mineral-rich Katanga region under Moise Tshombe and United Nations (UN) intervention. In September the coalition broke down, and Lumumba was ousted in a coup led by Mobutu. On 1 December he was imprisoned at Thysville and on 17 January 1961 he was flown to Elisabethville in Katanga. On 13 February 1961 it was announced that he was shot, and killed, while trying to escape.

SAHO, Patrice Lumumba, from South African History Online, [online] Available at www.sahistory.org.za [Accessed: 4 February 2009]|Answers, Patrice Lumumba, from Answers.com, [online], Available at answers.com [Accessed: 4 February 2009].