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Congolese army says it has foiled a coup. Self-exiled opposition leader threatens president

Kinshasha, Congo –

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 guards of a close ally of Congo’s president that left three people dead in the capital, Kinshasa.

At first, local media identified the armed men as Congolese soldiers but then reported they were linked to self-exiled opposition leader Christian Malanga who later posted a video on Facebook threatening President Felix Tshisekedi.

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. The Central African country has witnessed similar trends of disputed elections in the past.

Congolese army spokesperson Brigadier General Sylvain Ekenge said on state television Sunday that the attempted coup d’état was “nipped in the bud by Congolese defense and security forces (and) the situation is under control.” He did not give further details.

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

Clashes were reported Sunday between men in military uniform and guards of Vital Kamerhe, a federal legislator and a candidate for speaker of the National Assembly of Congo, at his residence in Kinshasa, about two kilometres (1.2 miles) from the presidential palace and where some embassies are also located.

Kamerhe’s guards stopped the armed men, Michel Moto Muhima, the politician’s spokesperson said on the X social media platform, adding that two police officers and one of the attackers were killed in the shootout that started around 4:30 a.m.

Footage, seemingly from the area, showed military trucks and heavily armed men parading deserted streets in the neighborhood as the army said the situation has been brought under control.

Meanwhile, the self-exiled Malanga appeared in the live-streamed video surrounded by several people in military uniform and said: “Felix you’re out, we are coming for you.”

On his website, the opposition leader’s group — the United Congolese Party (UCP) — is described as “a grassroots platform that unifies the Congolese Diaspora around the world opposing the current Congolese dictatorship.”

Tshisekedi hasn’t so far addressed the public about Sunday’s events.

On Friday, he met with parliamentarians and leaders of the Sacred Union of the Nation ruling coalition in an attempt to resolve the crisis seizing 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.”

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

Asadu reported from Abuja, Nigeria. Associated Press journalist Ruth Alonga in Goma, Congo and Sam Mednick in Tel Aviv contributed.

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