June 12th, 2024

Congolese army says shootout in the capital is failed coup, perpetrators arrested

By Christina Malkia And Chinedu Asadu, The Associated Press on May 19, 2024.

KINSHASA, Congo (AP) – Congo’s army says it has “foiled a coup” early Sunday morning and arrested the perpetrators, including several foreigners, following a shootout between armed men in military uniform and a top politician’s guards that left three people dead in the capital, Kinshasa

The attempted coup d’état was “nipped in the bud” by Congolese defense and security forces (and) the situation is under control,” Congolese army spokesperson Brigadier General Sylvain Ekenge said at a media briefing. He did not give further details.

Clashes were reported between men in military uniform and guards of a local politician at the politician’s house that is on Tshatshi Boulevard which is 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from the presidential palace and where some embassies are also located.

This came amid a crisis gripping President Felix Tshisekedi’s ruling party over an election for the parliament’s leadership which was supposed to be held Saturday but was postponed.

The armed men attacked the Kinshasa residence of Vital Kamerhe, a federal legislator and a candidate for speaker of the National Assembly of Congo, but were stopped by his guards, Michel Moto Muhima, his spokesperson said on the X social media platform.

“The Honorable Vital Kamerhe and his family are safe and sound. Their security has been reinforced,” he wrote.

Local media identified the men as Congolese soldiers. It wasn’t clear if the men in military uniform were trying to arrest the politician.

Two police officers and one of the attackers were killed in the shootout that started around 4:30 a.m. at the house on Tshatshi Boulevard, according to Muhima.

Footage, seemingly from the area, showed military trucks and heavily armed men parading deserted streets in the neighborhood.

On Friday, President Felix Tshisekedi met with parliamentarians and leaders of the Sacred Union of the Nation ruling coalition in an attempt to resolve the crisis amid his party which dominates the national assembly.

He said he would not “hesitate to dissolve the National Assembly and send everyone to new elections if these bad practices persist.”

Tshisekedi was reelected as president in December in a chaotic vote amid calls for a revote from the opposition over what they said was a lack of transparency, following past trends of disputed elections in the central African country.

The United States Embassy in Congo issued a security alert, urging caution after “reports of gunfire.”

Asadu reported from Abuja, Nigeria. Associated Press journalist Sam Mednick in Tel Aviv contributed.

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