What was the reasoning behind the Belgian government's sudden move to independence?
Belgian authorities deliberately tried to keep the Congolese people isolated from the radical political ideas in other countries. In 1956 tiny educated minority of clerks, teachers, and shopkeepers in the main urban centers were raising demands for the abolition of the racial discrimination which dominated all aspects of social and economic life in colony. Belgians believed they could satisfy this group by permitting them to take part in open elections for local government. Elections held in 1957 and early 1958. Political parties formed drawing their main support from single ethnic groups like ABAKO, CONAKAT, and MNC. In 1958 these aspiring African politicians quickly transformed their local interest into demands for political independence. By January 1959 riots broke out. The Belgian government panicked, fearful of provoking an Algerian-type war of liberation, and called the colony's main political leaders to a "Round Table Conference" in Belgium in January 1960. African politicians were prepared to negotiate anything up to a five year transition period towards internal self-government, but to their surprise Belgians agreed to full political independence within less than six months.