Ngo Dinh Diem,
Eisenhower and Dulles
Ngo was his family name.
The French brought Catholicism with them to Vietnam,
and the Ngo family was Catholic, the Catholics remaining
no more than ten percent of the population. Ngo Dinh
Diem was appointed Prime Minister by France's puppet king, Bao Dai.
Then he benefited from a referendum held on October 23,
1955, that removed Bao Dai and declared the southern half
of Vietnam a republic, making Diem the south's chief
of state. The referendum has been described as a fraud.
At polling places Diem's troops assaulted those thought
to be voting to maintain the monarchy. Diem claimed more
votes than there were registered voters. And he stayed
in power by refusing to hold the nationwide elections
that had been agreed to by the French and Vietnamese
Communists at Geneva. Diem's rule was authoritarian
and hostile to Buddhists. When he was overthrown in 1963
people in Saigon celebrated in the streets, cheering
the army and bedecking their tanks with flowers.