Congo-Kinshasa: Who Was Christian Malanga, the Man Behind DR Congo's 'Foiled Coup'?

The Congolese army claimed, on Sunday, May 19, to have neutralised Christian Malanga, 41, saying he was the leader of Sunday's reportedly 'failed coup' attempt in the capital Kinshasa.

Gunfire erupted around 4 am in the capital as attackers raided the residence of Vital Kamerhe, the country's deputy prime minister and candidate for president of the National Assembly, before breaking into the Palais de la Nation, where offices of Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi are located, said DR Congo military spokesperson Sylvain Ekenge.

Earlier on Sunday, Malanga had streamed a live video of the interior of the presidential palace on a Facebook account. Surrounded by armed men, he issued threats against Tshisekedi.

According to reports, four attackers, including their leader, were killed in the 'failed coup' early Sunday in Kinshasa. The leader is "a certain Christian Malanga, a Congolese naturalized American," said Ekenge, noting that around 50 other people involved in the attack including Marcel Malanga, 21, son of Christian Malanga, were arrested.

Malanga formed the United Congolese Party in 2010 and advocated the return of Zaire.

In 2017, reports indicate, he created a government in exile in Brussels, Belgium, giving birth to "New Zaire."

But who was Malanga?

Not so much is known yet. But the 41-year-old former soldier wore multiple hats, serving as a politician as well as a businessman.

Born in Zaire (now DR Congo) in 1983, Malanga spent much of his childhood in Swaziland, where his parents sought refuge in 1993, before relocating to Salt Lake City, Utah, in the United States as political refugees with asylum status.

During his time in the US, he owned several small businesses until 2006, when he co-founded the DR Congo non-profit Africa Helpline Society.

He was actively involved in the organisation's initiatives, working directly with children at the on-site orphanage and contributing to its global outreach efforts. Concurrently, he also established a non-governmental organisation, Friends of America.

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In June 2006, Malanga returned to DR Congo and joined military service.

By 2007, he attained the rank of captain in the Congolese military, where his responsibilities included serving as a brigade morale officer and commanding a training company with approximately 235 men under his supervision.

After concluding his military service in 2010, he shifted his attention to business by founding his own private company, Malanga Congo, which ventured into water purification and bottling, as well as domestic mining operations.

The following year, he contested in the parliamentary elections as an independent opposition candidate.

His candidacy was marred by detainment by government security forces two days before the elections, followed by more than two weeks in custody.

Upon release, he established his political party - UCP, but after a year, he returned to the USA and continued to stay there.

On his website, UCP is described as "a grassroots platform that unifies the Congolese Diaspora around the world opposing the current Congolese dictatorship."

During Sunday's attack, Malanga allegedly led a group of fighters, including his son Marcel. Reports suggest that the group planned to target the residence of the new Prime Minister Judith Suminwa and Defense Minister Jean-Pierre Bemba.

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