Democratic Republic of Congo Denounces Foiled Coup Attempt in Kinshasa

Kinshasa, May 19, 2024 – The army of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) announced that it had foiled an attempted coup against President Félix Tshisekedi. The announcement was made by army spokesman General Sylvain Ekenge in a brief message broadcast on national television.

According to General Ekenge, the attack was carried out by a mixed group of Congolese and foreign nationals. “The assailants involved in this coup attempt have been arrested,” he said. Reports indicate that some of the attackers crossed the Congo River to flee.

On the morning of May 19, armed individuals carrying the former flag of the Republic of Zaire attacked the residence of deputy Vital Kamerhe in Gombe, a northern district of Kinshasa. Vital Kamerhe Lwa Kanyiginyi had recently won the elections to represent the ruling alliance in the presidency of the National Assembly.

Two bodyguards of Vital Kamerhe were killed in the attack, according to his spokesman and the Embassy of Japan in the DRC, via the social network X (formerly Twitter).

The assailants also attacked the Palais de la Nation, the seat of the presidency of the Republic, at dawn around 4:30 a.m. Barricades were erected around the presidential offices located in Gombe, an area housing many government offices.

Congolese media report that the assailants are supporters of the “New Zaire” movement led by Christian Malanga, a politician in exile. Our editorial team obtained a video showing Malanga declaring in Lingala: “We, the military, are tired, we cannot continue with Vital Kamerhe and President Félix Tshisekedi.”

Christian Malanga, 41, lived in the United States where he founded the opposition party UCP in 2012. He had also created an exile government in Brussels, called “New Zaire.” In a video captured during the attack, Malanga, a former captain of the Congolese army (FARDC), urged Tshisekedi to step down.

Calm has returned to the capital, according to a journalist present in Gombe. Japan confirmed through its ambassador Hidetoshi Ogawa that Vital Kamerhe was not injured, but that two policemen and one assailant were killed.

US Ambassador to the DRC, Lucy Tamlyn, expressed concern about the events, especially reports that Americans may have been involved. She stated that the United States was cooperating with Congolese authorities to investigate and hold accountable any Americans involved in these violent acts.

The Congolese government thanked its armed forces and security forces for their swift response, announcing an investigation to determine the details of the incident. Authorities called on the population to remain vigilant and report any suspicious movements that could threaten peace.

President Félix Tshisekedi, re-elected for a second term with 78% of the vote at the end of last year, continues to lead a country facing many security challenges, including the rebellion of M23 fighters in the east of the country.