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1

Saturday, March 25th 2017, 10:47am

United Kingdoms of the Netherlands News 1948

1 January
In Suriname abolition of the Penal Sanction came into effect at midnight.
After the abolition of slavery in Suriname in 1863 recruitment of workers relied on labour from the Dutch East Indies. These workers were linked by contract to penal sanction which meant no contract for civil court, but criminal laws were in force, for example, a plantation owner as long as the workers were under contract could impose heavy penalties. By Regulation GB No.140 of September 8 1947 the penal sanction was officially abolished in Suriname with effect from January 1 1948.

17 January
The Luchtmacht has further entered the jet-age today as the first Koolhoven F.K.62 jet-powered bombers have entered service.
As the Royal Netherlands Air Force began looking at jet-powered fighters, it also saw the need to experiment with high-speed jet-powered fast bombers. Koolhoven took their F.K. 61 and replaced the piston engines with two 3,000lb Rayton Swazi centrifugal turbojets in revised nacelles as the F.K.61S. A series of eight pre-production aircraft designated F.K.62 followed from February 1947. These differed in having a new tail unit with more dihedral on the tailplanes and more streamlined nose. The new main undercarriage retracted into the inner wingroots. The two crewmen are seated on Danish ejector seats, the navigator/ bomb-aimer sitting in the nose and the engines are more powerful 4,200lb VB.04 Stuart Zulu centrifugal turbojets. 135 F.K.62 bombers are on order and some will be completed as F.K.62R high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft.

2

Monday, April 17th 2017, 6:20pm

24 January
A new political party has been founded today in Amsterdam. The People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) has been formed by several disgruntled members of the Vrijheidsbond (Freedom League-Conservative Party) under the leadership of Pieter Oud. Ideologically the VVD follows the liberal tradition with a strong emphasis on individual freedom.

26 January
The constitutional situation in the Kongo and Ubangi Shari remains confused as all sides try to find a solution to who should be Head of State of both nations. King William had ruled out adding his dead brother's titles to his own unless he was specifically asked to by the Kongolese or Ubangi Sharians. That invitation had not yet come.

In the Netherlands the trawling of the family trees had brought forward nobody suitable. The Royal Officials suggested the 24 year old Princess Marie-Adélaide, daughter of the Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg, Charlotte Aldegonde Élise Marie Wilhelmine. Marie-Adélaide was of suitable stock and connection to the Dutch Royal family, politically if not by blood, but she had still not married and the practical reasons to involve the Luxembourg Royal family in the Dutch Empire were thin beyond her neutrality but that did not mean she was suitable given the rough political situation out in the region. The existence of the Germanic influence remaining in the Kongolese political elite offered little hope given the Germans had gone firmly towards a Republic.

In the Kongo the government drew up a shortlist of possible contenders to take the Duchy, one of the several powerful Barons; Joseph Kengo, Nzanga Mobutu, Adam Kamerhe and Oscar Tshisekedi. An off-centre choice was Joseph Kasa Vubu, a senior civil servant widely known for his pro-independence leanings but experienced in dealing with the Dutch (he was part of the commission looking into the Confederation Plan) and was a moderate with a long-term independence plan. Moïse Kapenda Tshombe, a local politician and businessman in the Katanga Province was also mentioned several times despite his pro-independence politics.

In Ubangi Shari there was unequivocal opinion within the Ubangian Socialist Action Party that its leader Julius Limbani should become a President of a new Republic with no Dutch overlord. Partly the independence fever was infectious following the civil war and partly it was hopeful thinking that if independence was granted the coup plotters would never return and civil war would never happen again to blight their lives. The European members in the second college of the Chamber of Commerce list despaired but could not bring forward a respectable list of unity candidates that could offer what the people wanted (i.e. an African leading an African nation). The feel-good factor by reconstruction (still slow but ongoing) was also rejecting the early calls for uniting with Kongo, politically and culturally different there was never enough common ground to make the proposition workable. The Kongolese politicians were also relieved and sent their lists to Der Hague for comment and all three sides agreed to send envoys and meet in Amsterdam in a month’s time to discuss an agreement everyone could back.

3

Monday, April 17th 2017, 10:18pm

Speaking OOC of course,

Quoted

… The existence of the Germanic influence remaining in the Kongolese political elite offered little hope given the Germans had gone firmly towards a Republic.


I am not entirely certain of the meaning of this statement, and the following is probably not relevant to the Kongo situation, but while the Reich operates as a parliamentary democracy with an elected president as head of state, the old German (and Austrian) nobility, is alive, well, and able to play an active role in Germany’s political life. Otto von Hapsburg is but one example.

Friedrich Christian, Margrave of Meissen, head of the House of Wettin, and pretender to the titular Kingdom of Saxony, is but in his middle 50s, with legitimate issue. He is also pretender to the titular Kingdom of Poland (IIRC Marek made Poland an elective monarchy and killed off the last king shortly before he departed, so this could be a story line – but I’ve chosen not to go there).

While Rupprecht, Crown Prince of Bavaria, is rather old (born in 1869), his son, Albrecht, Duke of Bavaria, is only 43 (born 1905).

Karl Biron, Prince of Courland (born 1907) has been mentioned in Wesworld as a pretender to the ducal throne.

On the other hand, if you don’t wish a German aristocrat, there are always French – your choice of Legitimist, Orleanist, or Bonapartist pretenders are available.


:D

4

Tuesday, April 18th 2017, 11:35am

In Kirk's notes I found the following regarding the politics of the Kongo.
"While all five Duchies are Afrikan led, there is a small Germanic influence in some discussions, as German immigrants are prominent in technical and military regimes and predominate in some regions, led by "Counts". Populace is extremely pro-Queen, pro-SAE and pro-Dutch."
Also "the Queen started with a Feudal order (Chiefs became Barons, etc.) with the ties of honour and obligation, and is using a speeded up English model of progression to map the route to democracy."

I know from other posts Kirk made that German emigration to Kongo was encouraged, probably mainly from the ex-German colonies but probably the homeland too. I'm not sure to what extent that happened but it seems the Germans in Kirk's mind included some social bigwigs. While a German Prince could be found I'm not sure the Dutch would be too keen to make the political structure too Germanic rather than Dutch. I think probably the top echelons of this "Feudal order" are quite fragmented into the ethic groups they represent, thus the white and black groups would tend to offer their hierarchies for the top job as Head of State. It seems there should be five Dukes (who?) of which all are black. Of course its possible they just go the whole hog and ask Charles to add some more titles to his already lengthy title.
There are still more questions than answers to what Kirk had planned and to what final structure he went for. I probably will never sort the organisation before the end of the game but this particular issue of Head in State will be sorted before the end of the year.

5

Saturday, May 20th 2017, 10:24am

9 February
Phillips has further expanded its international business with the announcement today that its new subsidiary Philips Hong Kong has begun trading, importing a variety of lamps and radios to Hong Kong and the Chinese market.

17 February
In Yemen the Alwazirs seeking to seize power from the ruling dynasty attempted to assassinate Imam Yahya today. The assassin, known as Al-Qardaei, from the Bani Murad tribe attempted to shoot the Imam but a Dutch bodyguard managed to wrestle the man to the ground in time and the shot missed. The assassin confessed his crime as was beheaded. Yemeni troops have now sought to arrest the Alwaziris. Dutch troops have proclaimed no desire to intervene in the affair and it is hoped calm and peace can be soon restored without resort to revenge by the Iman or the stirrings of a civil war.

19 February
The Nederlandsche Handel-Maatschappij (The Netherlands Trading Society) has opened another branch serving the Far East, this time in Karachi. This follows many years after the expansion into India which took place in 1920 with branches opening in Mumbai and Kolkata.

20 February
Delegates from the Kongo and Ubangi-Shari have arrived at Amsterdam airport during the day in readiness for the beginning of talks with the Dutch government on the current constitutional crisis of who should succeed King Alexander as head of state of both Duchies.

Here are the most recent press reactions:

Editorial in the newspaper De Telegraaf; “The solution to this issue will not be easy, but the government must be willing to lead. It cannot simply run downstream with the flow of the river, eventually it may find itself going over a waterfall.”

Editorial in the newspaper De Volkskrant; “Yet again the Government is in the midst of another crisis, since February 1945 we have been in some sort of crisis or other with the Government muddling through with compromise or drastic U-turns in policy. Much has been promised but little delivered, therefore we would not be surprised if our friends from Africa are not a little sceptical. Three years ago this editor asked the question whether the Kongo should be looking towards attaining self-governance rather than perpetuating the rule of royal elites, whether they hail from our own royal dynasty or their own? Today this question seems even more valid than before.”

Editorial in the newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad; “Stability and prosperity of the Kongo and Ubangi-Shari is key to the stability and prosperity of the Netherlands. This is not the time for rash actions and indeed it seems as though we can rely on the government to steady the boat and seek an agreement all sides can back.”

Editorial in the newspaper Batavia Daily; “While our readers follow the events in Amsterdam they may hear ever louder the whispers growing as each month passes as to when the Head of State situation in the East Indies will be resolved? What happens in the next few days may well prove a decisive blueprint for the future.”

6

Sunday, May 21st 2017, 4:24pm

21 February
In the city hall the delegates gathered in the main chamber. Leading the Dutch contingent is Staatssecretaris of Foreign Affairs Louis J.M. Beel and a group of ten senior civil servants from both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Colonial Affairs, the Law Office and the Royal Household. Representing the King is his Policy Charge d’Affaires Willem van Rappard.
The Kongolese contingent is led by State Minister Josef Mobuku, who is ably supported by nine civil servants and representatives from the main political parties.
The Ubangi-Shari delegation is led by the newly-appointed Constitutional Secretary John Hattambina and the head of the Civil Service, Claude van Reiner and also consists of three supporting officials.

The first item on the agenda was the legal succession of all of King Alexander’s personal property from his estate. On the death of their mother, Queen Wilhelmina, King William inherited half of his mother’s wealth and King Alexander one quarter (the remainder going to Queen Julianna of Belgium). All of her personal land holdings, including those located in central Africa, went to King William, thereby retaining the title of Prince of Kongo and Ubangi-Shari to secure his status as landlord under the current Baronial landowning legal standing in the Kongo. Under King Alexander’s Will, Alexander left the bulk of his personal wealth and the few land and property investments he had made to his brother and sister.

Josef Mobuku raised two questions; did William’s retention of the title of Prince of Kongo entitle him to automatic succession and if not, and another Head of State was appointed would Alexander’s personal property be considered family or state ownership and if so would his land holdings be transferred to the new Head of State. His colleague Johan Kripps also asked whether William’s position as Prince of Kongo would risk constitutional conflict if an independent Head of State was appointed.
The resolution of this legal questions took most of the rest of the day’s session to work out. No definitive answers could be given but in principle the long-established rule that the Kingdom of the Kongo and the Grand Duchy of Ubangi-Shari are personal possessions of the Monarch of the Netherlands remained. Therefore when King William was crowned, he gave the Kingdom of the Kongo and the Grand Duchy of Ubangi-Shari to Alexander as his personal possessions, excepting the land and property given to William by his mother in her Will. Willem van Rappard explained that Alexander’s personal estate was purely a family matter as in any testate Will and now legally belongs as part of the Orange-Nassau family holdings in the Kingdom of the Kongo and the Grand Duchy of Ubangi-Shari. What needed agreement now was whether King William could inherit the titles King of Kongo and Ubangi-Shari he had ceded to his brother and whether any other body had the legal right to decide this as the Kingdom of the Kongo and the Grand Duchy of Ubangi-Shari are personal possessions of the Monarch.

Josef Mobuku and John Hattambina both wanted to raise their possible home-grown solutions but Louis Beel ruled that unless this question was settled then all other speculation and discussion would be meaningless. John Hattambina was heard to audible mutter “What about the will of the people to decide their own fate?” but the day’s meeting was closed.

7

Saturday, May 27th 2017, 1:48pm

22 February
The second day of the Amsterdam Conference. The Dutch legal team seemed quite weary, having been up most of the night, consulting the best legal minds in the Netherlands and historians of state matters.

Before Louis Beel could begin the official agenda John Hattambina leapt up and read out a statement. “We, the representatives of the people of the Grand Duchy of Ubangi-Shari feel bound to point out that with all due respect to ancient legal wordings we have to raise the matter of our people’s wishes. Are we to be summoned here to be told we are the playthings of a King? To be bought and sold like cattle in the market? This is 1948, not 1648, the world has moved on. Not long ago men fought and died in a brutal conflict to decide the future of Ubangi-Shari, many of your own brave sons fought and died alongside us. We owe it to them and our children to point out that just following what the history books tell us is no longer the option for us to move forward. Our history books tell a different tale. Yes, Queen Wilhelmina was kind to us, treated us like errant children and tried to raise us to be good so we may sit your table and eat from your china someday. But the Belgian King before her was cruel and whipped us like dogs, stole our land and let his people starve. No disrespect for the deceased King, but Alexander was a foolish youth, too fond of women and fast cars and champagne parties. What little did we matter to him other than the knowledge he had power over us? King William may be a wise a ruler as his mother, but who says his children will be? No! We cannot go on waiting to see if our progress must be advanced or retarded depending on the whims of who happens to hold the title King or Queen.

Josef Mobuku was seen to nod along as Hattambina spoke and even Claude van Reiner, a Dutch settler in Ubangi, could not look entirely unsupportive. [Historians would later conclude that the speech had been by Prime Minister Julius Limbani and wired to Hattambina to read out at the conference.]
The conference, somewhat taken aback broke for a short recess. The Dutch knew Royal Prerogative was powerful, perhaps more so in the Netherlands than anywhere else among the few European monarchies still functioning. Yet, even they knew in some matters, such as the Queen’s Confederation Plan and the stripping of the Household Troops from King William, the State could override the Crown when enough pressure could be brought to bear. As Louis Beel sipped his coffee in the lobby, he quietly reflected that whatever legal powers King William had, his actions must be guided by events on the ground. But even so, he knew the more cracks that appeared in the edifice of Royal power that one day it would collapse. As he watched an observer from Batavia move over to talk with Hattambina to congratulate him on his speech he knew he must act.

After the recess Louis Beel made the surprising move of altering the agenda. He declared that after the moving speech it was only right that the other options should be discussed to, as he described it, “see if the alternatives have any solid basis, if not then it seems fair that we should move onto the proper legal questions without delay.”
This put the Kongolese and Ubangi delegations into a mild panic; they had little time to prepare their best cases for home-grown solutions and present a cast-iron case. If they did not it looked as though Beel would shut out any second attempt and they knew he would find in favour of the small group of disappointed looking legal experts in the corner of the room.

The Dutch delegation swiftly dropped all talk of its trawling through the family trees of Europe for suitable independent successors. The 24 year old Princess Marie-Adélaide, daughter of the Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg, Charlotte Aldegonde Élise Marie Wilhelmine, had been informally approached but she had recoiled at the idea. In a brief speech Willem van Rappard simply said that there was no suitable alternative beyond the House of Orange-Nassau. His statement implied one of the two surviving members of that House should succeed Alexander.

John Hattambina deftly let Josef Mobuku take the first stand to raise the situation of the Kongo.
He outlined the current political situation and the feeling among many Representatives in the First and Second Colleges that the time was ripe for a dedicated and focused Head of State. He reminded the conference that the Kongo is the largest country in Sub-Saharan Africa and the second largest in all of Africa. The current population was twelve million, more than the population of the Netherlands. “We are larger than many European nations and have a growing economy and have mineral wealth and not inconsiderable political standing in Africa. We also have our own problems, poverty, poor health, unemployment and growing cities.” The bottom line of his argument was, “a Dutch King can only give us some of the time and attention we need, but a man who knows what his country needs and how to achieve the best outcome and can devote all his time and energies is the best answer for us.”

He then outlined the shortlist of possible Barons who had the stature and character to become a worthy successor to Alexander. The shortlist had been drawn up by the Government and so featured a broad choice. The first was Baron Joseph Kengo, a technocrat of high ability having served as President General of the national electricity provider (NEM) and had served as foreign minister from 1936-37. Baron Nzanga Mobutu, from a well-connected family he has served terms as Minister of Agriculture and Minister of Social Welfare in the last government. Baron Adam Kamerhe is a widely-known Kamina businessman and Baron Oscar Tshisekedi is well respected and one of the main fulcrums of power in the Second College. All were solidly conservative figures. Mobuku then quickly ran through a couple of non-Baronial possibilities, though he warned the Dutch not to be alarmed by any tainting of independence leanings as both were moderates in that regard. Joseph Kasa Vubu a senior civil servant experienced in dealing with the Dutch, as part of the Confederation Plan commission (indeed his nomination prevented him attending the Amsterdam Conference), and Moïse Kapenda Tshombe, a politician and businessman in the Katanga Province were the two best choices.
Copies of their histories were handed out as the Conference broke for the day.

8

Saturday, May 27th 2017, 3:48pm

OOC:

Interesting developments. I look forward to more.

9

Monday, May 29th 2017, 11:39am

23 February
The third day of the Amsterdam Conference.

At the opening, Louis Beel asked John Hattambina to outline his solution to the succession. His speech was short but no less shocking than yesterday’s. “The unanimous vote of the Ubangian Socialist Action Party, and therefore of the people, is that our leader and Prime Minister Julius Limbani should become a President of a new Republic. He is the only man equipped to lead us forwards.”
As everyone took in the implication of independence from Dutch rule, the head of the Ubangi Civil Service and a former member of the white party Chamber of Commerce List Claude van Reiner stood up quietly and said that there was an opinion among the white settlers that King William would be suitable if a riskier and unknown option was unfeasible.

Indeed Louis Beel flung back Hattambina’s words, “you said yesterday no nation can progress based on the whims of an unknown entity but what you and Mr Mobuku have outlined is a whole succession of unknowns, men whose temperament and ability are unknown with mixed track records and motivations. Mr Hattambina’s proposal is nothing less than fantastical and indeed perhaps reckless in light of recent instability in Ubangi-Shari.”
Hattambina had no easy answer to that question except that change had to come and that he would rather it came from negotiation rather than the violent forces that had recently erupted.

There was no consensus in the discussion that followed for any of the candidates for a non-Royal succession and no solid reason and evidence of public support for such a move. A copy of a poll in the previous day’s newspapers in the Kongo seemed to indicate 68% in favour of King William succeeding and reports that Baron Adam Kamerhe had already been active in campaigning for support despite the secrecy of his nomination on the shortlist was further proof of the unreliability of some of the selections. Josef Mobuku’s case seemed to crumble in front of his eyes as the Dutch delegation refused to endorse (or indeed criticise) the candidates.

10

Saturday, June 3rd 2017, 10:21am

24 February
The fourth day of the Amsterdam Conference.

The Dutch legal team seemed quite cheery, having finally gotten their delayed spot on the agenda. King William’s Policy Charge d’Affaires Willem van Rappard recapped the three questions raised on the first day; did William’s retention of the title of Prince of Kongo entitle him to automatic succession? If another Head of State was appointed would Alexander’s personal property be considered family or state ownership and if so would his land holdings be transferred to the new Head of State? Would King William’s position as Prince of Kongo risk constitutional conflict if an independent Head of State was appointed?

The legal team, prompted by van Rappard, gave their opinions. One of the six lawyers present was the King’s personal lawyer and legal adviser and he oversaw everything, leaving no doubt that he had briefed the others beforehand what to say.
It was confirmed that King Alexander’s personal estate legally belonged to the House of Orange-Nassau.

It was argued that William’s retention of the title of Prince of Kongo and Ubangi-Shari entitled him to automatic succession on two grounds. First, the Kingdom of the Kongo and the Grand Duchy of Ubangi-Shari are personal possessions of the ruling Monarch of the House of Orange-Nassau and the only two possible contenders were ruling Monarchs; Queen Julianna in Belgium, but only in succession from her dead husband due to the Meinrad dynasty having died out, and King William. Therefore logically as Monarch the titles reverted to him. Second, being Prince of Kongo and Ubangi-Shari put him at the pinnacle of the Kongolese Baronial system and therefore by right he was de-facto deputy to the Kongolese Monarch and therefore successor to Alexander on his death. So contrary to any arguments and hand-wringing in Kamina since the King’s death, there was no constitutional crisis. Willem van Rappard concluded that by Royal Prerogative the succession of power did not even need the assent of the governments of Kongo and Ubangi-Shari, but he added that for obvious reasons the King would welcome that official assent before he could regain the title and was willing to ask their advice before formally succeeding his brother.

Josef Mobuku accepted the judgement but did not openly comment on it. John Hattambina rejected it, despite acknowledging the validity of the legal position but Claude van Reiner felt sure that enough support at home could be achieved to accept it.

Josef Mobuku was willing to negotiate, and so it seemed was the King. After the conference broke up the small groups huddled in private rooms and thrashed out an agreement. In return for the Kongolese government giving the King “positive” advice to succeed the title King of Kongo he would agree to altering the wording of the current agreements that decreed the Kongo a personal possession. He would not however, give over his personal estates in the country, but as a political entity the Kongo would no longer be ‘his’. So it was the next day the Kongolese departed on a KLM airliner with a draft agreement.
John Hattambina agreed to take the same proposal back to Bangui, but he personally did not back it and felt his countrymen would not either but he knew he was facing a fait accompli.

11

Sunday, June 18th 2017, 10:43am

27 February
The Kongolese Government today held a special session of both Colleges and voted on the proposal to ask King William of the Netherlands to formally succeed his dead brother as King of the Kongo. The proposal passed with a healthy majority.

28 February
KOOPD has flown the prototype X-03 Belalang two-seat basic trainer today. This low-wing monoplane is of mixed construction with a fixed undercarriage and a 90hp Continental C-90-12F air-cooled flat-four engine. It is hoped if tests go well that a production aircraft will fly by the end of the year. The Batavia Air Club already has six on order.

12

Saturday, June 24th 2017, 2:48pm

1 March
The Ubangi-Shari Government today held a special session and voted on the proposal to ask King William of the Netherlands to formally succeed his dead brother as King of Ubangi-Shari. The proposal passed with a slim majority following a four hour long debate.

3 March
King William today announced that he had accepted the call to succeed his late brother as King of Kongo and Ubangi-Shari. In return he has asked that the Chartered Rights be amended to alter the status of the Kingdom of Kongo and the Grand Duchy of Ubangi-Shari from Crown possessions to Provincial territories (giving them equal status with Suriname and the Netherlands East Indies), constitutionally under the supervision of a States-Generaal appointed by the Dutch government (with Royal assent).

4 March
Police in Bangui cleared a small demonstration of republican protesters in the main square of the Ubangi capital. A few were injured in the scuffle but although the situation remains tense, the police felt it was safe enough not to require further measures to keep the peace.

6 March
Agitators in Bangui this afternoon pelted the main office of the Ubangian Socialist Action Party with stones and beat up two party functionaries who emerged to try and break the crowd up. Within minutes a police patrol, assisted by an Army patrol, had forced the crowd to disperse. Not only were the demonstrators angry about the recent constitutional change that maintains Dutch colonial rule, but also that there is only one legal party representing the black population since the Ubangian Economic and Social Action Party was declared illegal at the end of the Civil War. To these young democrats, the perils of colonial rule are the same as the perils of a one-party state. [The Chamber of Commerce List is the only other political party, but it mainly serves the white settler community but has often focused on the merchant classes at the expense of the farmers and so has never been truly representative of all the white voters.]

13

Saturday, July 15th 2017, 11:39am

10 March
A lateral launch of a coaster at Bodewes Yard in Winschoterdiep today went horribly wrong when the hull failed to right itself and capsized. One worker aboard the vessel unfortunately drowned.

12 March
Prime Minister Limbani annouced today that talks will be held next month regarding the current political situation in Ubangi Shari and the possibility of giving pardons to former USAP politicans who were jailed following the civil war.

23 March
Nurtanio Wiweko Glider N.V. at Magetan in the Dutch East Indies have flown their first own-designed motorised glider. The WEL-X was taken up twice for trial flights today and reportedly flew well. The WEL-X is fitted with a Harley Davidson engine imported from America.

14

Wednesday, July 19th 2017, 12:41pm

24 March, Alexandria, Egypt

The two men slowly walked up the rickety steps to the first floor, trying to avoid making the wood squeak too much as it bent. The first man in a grey suit paused momentarily to wipe his forehead with the back of his hand. As they reached the top of the stairs, they began easing down the dark and hot corridor, heading towards one of three dark wooden doors. The murmurings of the hubbub and commotion of the bazaar in the street outside could be heard as they cautiously stepped forwards to one of the doors. The men took positions on each side, the grey suited man drawing a Browning automatic from his shoulder holster beneath his jacket. His fair-haired companion, in a lighter suit also drew his pistol. They paused a moment, ears straining for any sounds not part of the background noise. The grey suited man glanced at his wristwatch, he waited a moment then nodded.

The lighter-suited man stepped back and with a hefty kick, kicked the door open. As it swung back on its rusty hinges another man, large with a bald head with a distinctively scarred face, smashed through the double-windows, Browning in hand. The three men smoothly fanned out, the bald man throwing back the curtain leading to another smaller room. The shabby room was empty except for a small bed and a few tatty sticks of furniture. Almost wordlessly they began searching the room, stripping the bed, turning the table over and ripping out the contents of a small cupboard. There were few possessions and nothing of note caught the men’s attention.

Soon a figure appeared at the door, a distressed looking scruffy man, the landlord, shouting in Arabic at the three men. The large bald man grabbed him by the arm and wrestled him onto a chair. The grey suited man began shouting questions at the man. Who had occupied the room? Where was the man? Who visited? And a dozen other questions. The landlord was understandably feeling aggrieved and felt less than co-operative and so the bald man roughed him up to loosen his tongue.

Minutes later the three men calmly walked out of the main door and melted back into the bazaar, the landlord appearing shortly afterwards, his nose bloody, running to the corner of the main street to summon a policeman.

15

Sunday, August 13th 2017, 5:53pm

Cornelius Drax, the head of KIS in Kongo and Ubangi-Shari had been summoned to Der Hague. In the main meeting room, richly decorated and imposing, were all the main officials of the organisation, including the formidable head Jackob van der Veen. Drax had been given the mission of tracking down the escaped former members of the Ubangi republican rebels, including General N’Dofa and the priest Barthélemy Boganda. When everyone was seated van der Veen asked Drax to begin his briefing on the progress of the manhunt so far.

“We believe that contrary to promises by our English colleagues in MI5 than N’Dofa and his leadership fled overland and via illegally acquired aircraft into the Sudan. We believe they had intended to cross the Arabian Sea into Yemen or Aden but that they actually doubled back into Rwanda and Kenya, freely crossing without hindrance and helped by pro-nationalist factions in both colonies. In spring 1946 we had a source that some of the leaders were in Yemen but searches by the local agents found no traces. Two months later we received a tip-off that a man closely resembling Barthélemy Boganda had been spotted in one of the northern provinces of the South African Empire. A sighting of N’Dofa in Suriname around this time was discounted as unlikely. It was felt the leadership would remain in Africa, where they could more easily be hidden and where their nationalist supporters could offer them sanctuary. We believe some of the leaders passed into the SAE, prisoner interrogation of captured rebels in Ubangi-Shari revealed plans to set up a base near the Zambia/Kongo border. In June last year we raided a property in Kitwe just over the border without success. In July a sighting was registered in Marrakesh and we received reports N’Dofa had headed north by sea to reach the Mediterranean with the aim of perhaps reaching Europe or the Near East. Then an informer reported…”
“Yes, yes, all very interesting,” van der Deen interjected, “bring us up to date, this history lesson is getting us nowhere nearer finding the man.”

Drax paused a moment and flicked over his page of notes. Three months ago, a source known to us as Holster reported a sighting of N’Dofa in Cairo trying to arrange passage into Turkey or Syria in an attempt to raise funds and arms. We despatched a team undercover while informing our English colleagues in the Grey Towers but not divulging our source of information. They, it seems, did little to verify our information. Holster updated us two weeks later that a small rented room near the seafront in Alexandria was N’Dofa’s main base. After observations, we staged a raid on the premises.”
Van der Veen now huffed at the head of the table, “And they badly bungled Drax. You omit that they broke in, found absolutely nothing and assaulted the landlord for good measure. The Egyptian police complained to the English, thinking it was one of their MI5 teams after Brotherhood suspects, the Grey Towers putting two and two together blamed us almost immediately and they made sure the Egyptians gave our Charge d’Affairs diplomatic hell. I had the foreign minister on the phone giving me hell and I tried to deny any involvement knowing the Foreign Ministry would love a scandal to beat us with given the political situation.”

Drax could do little but squirm at the lamentable chain of events. If only the British had taken the threat N’Dofa posed by encouraging anti-colonists’ then things might have been different.
“Sir, Holster has been an impeccable source of information in the past, I remain convinced N’Dofa is somewhere along the North African coastline while Barthélemy Boganda is probably leading a separate group somewhere east of the Kongo, our friends in Pretoria are making enquiries and actively using their contacts among the poachers and smugglers along the border.”
The boss wasn’t happy and asked whether the entire operation should be wound up with little to show for over two years work other than paperwork and expense forms. The others around the table were of mixed opinion, some favoured renewed efforts on the rebel prisoners to turn some double-agents, others favoured stronger action and others felt sooner or later N’Dofa would re-appear anyway and that his grassroots should be cut back.
“Very well,” van der Veen summed up, “Drax, you are to continue the investigation, I suggest you come up with more reliable ways to penetrate the rebel organisation and start disrupting things from there. Make N’Dofa react, then he is sure to raise his head over the parapet allowing us a clean shot.”