DRC: Catholic Bishops Condemn Coup Bid, Denies Link with Suspected Mastermind

By Paschal Norbert

KINSASHA, MAY 21, 2024 (CISA) – The National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) has condemned an attempted coup against President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which occurred in the wee hours of Pentecost Sunday on May 19, 2024.

It is reported that in the early hours Sunday morning, armed men attacked the Palais de la Nation, the seat of the Presidency of DRC and the residence of a Mr Vital Kamerhe, a former chief of staff and an ally of the president who is a candidate for the presidency of the National Assembly.

“CENCO expresses its indignation and strongly condemns these attacks which have damaged the Institutions of the Republic and caused the death of men. At a time when efforts are being made to curb the insecurity sown by foreign and national armed groups in the east of the country, particularly in the Provinces of Ituri and North Kivu, and where minds are supposed to be in all directions, it is unacceptable for an armed group to take up residence in the heart of Kinshasa,” stated the bishops in a statement dated September May 20.

According to local media reports in DRC, the army managed to quash the attempted coup and about 50 suspects including three Americans and a naturalized British citizen have been detained. The suspected mastermind of the coup, Christian Malanga, was also killed in the process after he resisted arrest by the forces.

In the statement, the bishops also denied any links with Christian Malanga, a former exiled DRC politician who authorities believe was the leader of the New Zaire Movement, a group to which the attackers are ascribed. They chastised the ill motive of the individuals sharing images of bishops with the suspect, purporting to establish any linkages to support their narratives.

“The Bishops have noted that there are images circulating on social networks which show, alongside the Bishops and other people, the alleged mastermind of the attacks, identified under the name of Christian Malanga. It turns out that the Bishops, in their pastoral concern, allow themselves to be approached, anywhere, by any human person, for photos or videos. Which in no way means the existence of special relationships with these people. They thus condemn any recovery of these images by malicious people for unhealthy populist purposes,” they stated.

“It should be noted that this individual is not a member of any official institution of the Catholic Church, neither at the level of the Holy See at the Vatican in Rome nor at the level of the local Church in DR Congo. His despicable acts do not involve the Catholic Church, neither directly nor remotely,” the prelates stressed.

The Catholic bishops, however, urged the government to make a greater commitment to strengthening national cohesion and appealed to the Congolese people not to give in to fear but to remain vigilant. They also prayed for the innocent victims of the attack.

“The Archbishops and Bishops members of CENCO entrust to the mercy of God the innocent people who lost their lives during these attacks. Their thoughts are also with the bereaved families and all the people who have been affected by these acts of violence.”