Widow of Congo's assassinated independence-era hero dies

Congo's government spokesman says the widow of Patrice Lumumba, the country's first prime minister whose assassination more than 50 years ago made him a liberation symbol worldwide, has died.

Lambert Mende said Pauline Opango Lumumba, 78, died in her sleep in Kinshasa on Tuesday.

He said the government offered "sincere condolences to their children and members of the family."

Patrice Lumumba was elected prime minister when Belgium granted Congo independence in 1960 after almost a century of colonial rule.

Belgium years ago accepted "moral responsibility" for Lumumba's 1961 assassination. His killing is generally seen as a Western plot to take power from a socialist-minded African leader. He was replaced by dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, who ruled for 30 years with the support of the United States and other Western governments.