body-container-line-1

DR Congo thwarts Kinshasa 'coup attempt': army

By Marthe BOSUANDOLE - AFP
Congo The Congolese Republican Guard and police block a road around the area of an attempted coup in Kinshasa.  By ARSENE MPIANA (AFP)
SUN, 19 MAY 2024 LISTEN
The Congolese Republican Guard and police block a road around the area of an attempted coup in Kinshasa. By ARSENE MPIANA (AFP)

The DR Congo military on Sunday thwarted an attempted coup near the offices of President Felix Tshisekedi in Kinshasa involving "foreigners and Congolese", the army spokesperson said.

The coup bid took place in the early hours of the morning outside the residence of economy minister Vital Kamerhe, in the Gombe area in the north of the capital, near the Palais de la Nation which houses the president's offices.

"An attempted coup d'etat has been stopped by the defence and security forces," said General Sylvain Ekenge in a message broadcast on national television.

He added that the "foreigners and Congolese... including their leader" would "all no longer cause any harm".

Shots were also heard near the Palais de la Nation at the time of the coup attempt, according to a number of sources.

Ekenge did not give any more details on the coup attempt. AFP also contacted official sources but has so far received no reply.

'Shocked by the events'

"I am shocked by the events this morning and very worried by the reports of American citizens allegedly involved," Lucy Tamlyn, the US ambassador to the DRC, posted on X, formerly Twitter.

Felix Tshisekedi (R) and Vital Kamerhe campaigning in Kinshasa in November 2018.  By John WESSELS (AFP/File) Felix Tshisekedi (R) and Vital Kamerhe campaigning in Kinshasa in November 2018. By John WESSELS (AFP/File)

"Rest assured that we are cooperating with authorities in DRC to the fullest extent possible, as they investigate these criminal acts and hold accountable any American citizen involved."

A number of people were also injured in Brazzaville, when a shell from Kinshasa fell into a neighbourhood in the capital of the Republic of Congo, which sits just across the Congo river from the DRC.

"A few people have been lightly injured, one of whom has been transported to the army hospital of Brazzaville for treatment by the health service," government spokesperson and Minister of Communication and Media Thierry Moungalla said in a statement.

During the day certain streets near the Palais de la Nation remained closed to traffic, but the situation appeared calm, AFP journalists reported.

Reports began to circulate on social media in the early morning of an attack on Kamerhe's home by armed men, some of whom then went to the Palais de la Nation.

There was "an armed attack" this morning at the residence of the economy minister, Japan's ambassador to Kinshasa Hidetoshi Ogawa wrote on X.

Kamerhe "was not harmed... (but) two policemen and an assailant were killed according to sources", he added.

France's ambassador reported automatic weapons fire in the quarter, urging nationals to avoid the area.

Zaire flags

Videos on social media showed men in fatigues at the Palais de la Nation, brandishing flags of Zaire, the name of the Democratic Republic of Congo under the dictator Mobutu Sese Seko who was overthrown in 1997.

AFP was unable to verify the videos.

Several heavily armed military vehicles drove from the Palais de la Nation towards a large intersection, also in Gombe, AFP witnessed.

Construction blocks obstructed the road leading to the Palais de la Nation, while soldiers on foot blocked access to a boulevard near Tshisekedi's offices.

Tshisekedi was re-elected at the end of December when he received more than 70 percent of votes in the first round.

But he is yet to form a government some five months after the elections.

Kamerhe was named on April 23 as a candidate for president of the National Assembly, the DRC's main legislative body.

body-container-line