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The Africa Report

Sameera Casmod |
21 May 2024 | 12:53 p.m. SAST
2-minute read

News of a thwarted coup attempt by gunmen in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) emerged on Sunday. Both Congolese and foreign nationals were involved in the attempted overthrow that targeted high-ranking government officials according to President Felix Tshisekedi.

Army spokespersons confirmed the foiled coup, stating that the plotters and their leaders had been neutralised. However, details regarding the exact actions taken against them were not disclosed.

To provide context to this event, Dr Emmanuel Matambo, research director at the Centre for Africa-China Studies, discussed the political situation in the DRC during this week’s Africa Report.

“In December of 2023, the Congolese people went to the elections, during which President Felix Tshakeri was re-elected as president. The vote, predictably, was disputed by the opposition that it lacked legitimacy. And the situation has been rendered even more fractious by the fact that for the last six months or so, the president has not convened a government yet. The parliamentary election that was supposed to happen last week on Saturday has been postponed. So that has left the country on edge. And this coup was an attempt, so to say, to unseat the president,” Matambo explained.

Since President Tshisekedi’s controversial re-election in December 2023, political tensions have been simmering, exacerbated by delays in forming a new government and postponements of parliamentary elections. This coup attempt appears to be an effort to unsettle the government amid this backdrop of uncertainty.

Contrary to recent coups in West and Central Africa driven by grievances against French influence or government failures to address insurgency violence, the motivations behind this attempt seem rooted in internal political dynamics rather than external factors, Matambo says.

The main plotter, Christian Malanga, a Congolese businessman residing in the United States, orchestrated the coup with the involvement of his son, Marcel, and American business associate Benjamin Zalman-Polun.

The Congolese government has emphasised the role of foreign nationals, highlighting the perceived threats posed by external entities, particularly from Rwanda and Uganda.


International responses have been swift, with the United States condemning the coup plot and distancing itself from the involvement of its citizens.

The Japanese embassy also confirmed the coup attempt. However, the broader diplomatic community’s stance remains unclear.

The aftermath of this foiled coup is expected to intensify government crackdowns, leading to stricter measures and potentially exacerbating tensions within the country.

“The major consequence of this is that the ordinary Congolese citizens will be the biggest losers in this, because the government will be more draconian, it will impose a curfew, and obviously it will receive some tacit support from the international community, the diplomatic corps…” Matambo noted.

The DRC government, already feeling besieged, may resort to draconian measures to maintain control in the face of perceived threats.

Listen to the Africa Report on Sabaahul Muslim with Moulana Sulaimaan Ravat.


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