DRC army says it foiled attempted coup involving US citizens

Europe © Samy Ntumba Shambuyi/AP
© Samy Ntumba Shambuyi/AP

The Democratic Republic of Congo's military said it has killed the leader of an attempted coup, thwarting a plot that involved some 50 people – both foreigners and Congolese.

In a message broadcast on national television, army spokesperson General Sylvai Ekenge said a coup attempt was halted in the early hours of Sunday morning.

It involved three American citizens and a British man.

The coup operation attacked the presidency in Kinshasa as well as the nearby home of Economy Minister Vital Kamerhe, Ekenge said – adding it had been led by Christian Malanga, a “naturalised American”, who was killed by security forces.

Around 40 attackers were reportedly arrested. Four, including Malanga, were killed.

Two guards at Kamerhe's home were killed, though he and his family were unharmed.

Repeated attempt

Ekenge said Malanga first attempted an coup in 2017, and that one of the American citizens arrested Sunday was Malanga's son.

The group had reportedly planned to attack the home of Prime Minister Judith Suminwa and the residence of Defence Minister Jean-Pierre Bemba, but they “could not identify” Suminwa's home, and Bemba was not home.

After the attack at Kamerhe's home, the group then went to 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.

The US ambassador to Kinshasa said she was "shocked" by the events while the African Union said it "strongly condemns" the attempted putsch.

"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," ambassador Lucy Tamlyn posted on X.

Felix Tshisekedi was re-elected at the end of December for a second term, and parties backing him won around 90 percent of seats in the National Assembly. However he has yet to form a government, six weeks after appointing Suminwa as prime minister.

Kamerhe was a candidate to become speaker of the National Assembly in an election that had been scheduled for Saturday but had been delayed by Tshisekedi.

(with newswires)