1 NOVEMBER 1940, Page 2

Allied Central Africa

The fact that General de Gaulle should have broadcast from Leopoldville, in the Belgian Congo, his appeal, to all Free Frenchmen to recognise the Council of Defence of the French Empire, may be associated appropriately with the arrival in London of the Belgian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, M. Pierlot and M. Spaak, and the considerable accretion of strength thus acquired by a Government hitherto represented here by two Cabinet Ministers only. The Belgian Congo adjoins the territories in Africa which recognise General de Gaulle as the leader of the true France, the whole forming a cohesive Allied bloc that may assume increasing importance as the war in Africa develops. The more abject the capitula- tions of the Vichy administration to Hitler—and with M. Laval increasing in influence there are no lengths to which the process may not be carried—the stronger the tendency of all Frenchmen concerned either for their country's future or its good name to join de Gaulle will be. That tendency cannot take open form in European France, but it can in the African Empire, where General de Gaulle, whose troops are now in action in Gabon, has apparently relaxed his decision not to fight against fellow-Frenchmen. His new Free French Defence Council is a step forward. Apart from the great colonies of the Mediterranean seaboard the crux of the situation is at Dakar, where General Weygand has just established himself. Neither Britain nor the United States can afford to see that vital strategic point either handed over by Vichy to Germany, or administered by Vichy in the German interest.