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DRC: an attempted coup in a hazy political situation

Source: Publicsterctornag.net
Source: Publicsterctornag.net
Amid intense conflict with the M23 rebel group, internal divisions within President Félix Tshisekedi’s coalition over upcoming National Assembly elections, and the withdrawal of MONUSCO, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) witnessed an attempted coup on the 19th of May. Christian Malanga Musumari, leader of the United Congolese Party (UCP), a minor political party he founded in the United States, led this attempt by entering the Palais de la Nation, the president’s official residence and offices.
Christian Malanga, a refugee in the USA since 1998, returned to the DRC in 2006 to serve in the military, becoming a captain. He was arrested in 2011 while running for parliament as an opposition candidate. After returning to the USA in 2012, he founded the UCP and later, in 2017, established a government-in-exile in Brussels, declaring the “New Zaire.” On the day of the coup attempt, before his death, Malanga proclaimed the new Republic of Zaire and changed the DRC flag to that of Zaire – This sentiment reflects a widespread nostalgia among military personnel for Zaire that was perceived as a great nation in contrast to its current state of decadence.
In the context of recent coups sweeping through former French colonies in Africa, the attempted coup in the DRC is unique. The presence of American citizens among the coup plotters, including the involvement of Malanga’s son, raises complex diplomatic challenges for the US Ambassador Lucy Tamlyn to navigate the delicate situation while defending US interests and supporting democratic processes in the DRC.
The repressive policies of the government have been confirmed also by the post-coup security management and by the disappearance of Gloria Sengha Panda Shala, a well-known human rights and political activist.
Moreover, the military situation sharply deteriorated in North Kivu with the risk of the key city of Kanyabayonga being captured by the M23 rebel movement, allegedly supported by Rwanda, while other Congolese warlords rallied the M23.
Once again, addressing the security challenge is of utmost importance for the capital, which has traditionally been uncertain about which course of action to take. In July 2023, negotiations took place with the US contractor Blackwater. On March 8, 2024, Kinshasa refuted claims of negotiations with Moscow regarding the deployment of Afrikanskij Korpus MoD contractors to replace the positions to be vacated by the MONUSCO (United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo) by the end of 2024.
The 10th of April Ukraine opened its embassy in RDC after having brought back some troops deployed in 2022; evidently the antagonist Russian embassy has a 61-year tradition in the capital. Apparently diplomatic relations with Kiev have been restored under the assumption that both capitals are victims of an aggression. In short, time presses, the Congolese armed forces have serious combat problems, and President Tshisekedi is still continuing a balancing act between Russia and US-friends, while Beijing controls most of the significant mining concessions. If these are seriously threatened, this capital will weight in for a concrete military solution.
In the meantime, the failed putsch has accelerated the constitution of the government led by Judith Tuluka Suminwa, a Harward trainee in the Harvard Ministerial Forum (April 2023). The first ever DRC woman prime minister, in a government with 50% of women, but with all first line and security ministries controlled by the other 50% (with the exception of the MFA).

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