US disavows any link to failed coup: Father-son plot to overthrow Congo government hatched in USA, reports show

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Christian Malanga and his son, Marcel

A May 19 attempted coup by Utah-based Congolese expatriate Christian Malanga and his son, Marcel,  to replace the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) with “New Zaire” failed miserably.

Self-styled DRC “opposition leader”  Malanga, 41, living as a political refugee in Salt Lake City since 1998, was killed in the attempt to overthrow the government of Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi. The DRC president was not harmed in the coup attempt.  

Malanga’s American-born son Marcel, 21, and two of the son’s white soccer teammates from high school were arrested along with the survivors of the band of about 50 armed plotters. The armed invaders were blocked by Congolese military security in their attack on the Presidential palace and government compound in the capital of Kinshasa. A third former high school soccer teammate of Marcel’s reported that he was offered $100,000 to join the coup security team, but he had declined the offer.

The ringleaders of  the plot planned to establish a government under the name of  “New Zaire” similar to the Zairois government run by dictator Joseph Mobutu during his 26-year reign (1971-1997). The poorly worked out plan was most likely developed at Malanga’s home in Utah with a small number of supporters on the ground in the DRC. The local support failed to show up at the time of the attempted coup, according to the Associated Press.

Malanga live-streamed a video of the attack on Facebook.

“We, the militants, are tired,” Malanga said in the Congo language Lingala in the video. “We cannot drag on with Tshisekedi and (Parliament speaker Vital) Kamerhe. They have done too many stupid things in this country.”


US officials were quick to deny any prior awareness of the plot, with the US ambassador to the DRC, Lucy Tamlyn, saying she was “shocked” by reports of the attempted coup.  

“The US will cooperate with the DRC authorities to the fullest extent as they investigate these criminal acts and hold accountable any US citizen involved in criminal acts,” the ambassador said on her social media page, the AP reported. 

As late as Tuesday (June 4), US officials reported they had not been given details of the failed plot or gained access to the Americans who were arrested. 

In 2017, plot leader Christian Malanga founded the New Zaire Government while in exile in Belgium and declared himself to be the president of New Zaire.

DRC Army spokesman, General Sylvain Ekenge told CNN that “Christian Malanga had been neutralized during the exchange of fire at the Palais de la Nation (presidential palace),” adding that his son, Marcel, “was among those arrested.” 

Ekenge identified three Caucasian Americans Benjamin Reuben Zalman-Polun, Patrick Ducey, and Tyler Thompson as a part of the plot, but later announced that Patrick Ducey and Tyler Thompson was the same person using an alias.


Some questions have arisen in the wake of the coup attempt about what impact that crisis might have on potential investors in Congo mining operations.  Congolese officials launched a major publicity campaign months ago to attract Black Americans and other members of the African Diaspora to DRC Mining Week set for June 12-14. 

“The coup attempt was an ill-thought out and ill-conceived plan that was private or personal in nature, between Malanga and Tshisekedi, I believe,” said DeWayne Boyd, the co-founder and spokesperson for the DRC Crisis Group.  “It is alleged that President Tshisekedi took nine of Malanga’s gold mines, and that’s part of the reason for coup attempt. But that shouldn’t have a negative impact on the Congo’s outreach to the African American community.”

Boyd also said he doubts that any USA spy agencies had anything to do with the attempted coup.

“I don’t think they were involved,” he said. “They could do it way better than that guy Malanga did. Anyway, that was immediately refuted by the US ambassador to the DRC. And the State Department backed her up. They said they’ll work with the DRC to expose all the details of the plot.”

The aborted coup happened on the same day, May 19,  that President Joe Biden and the DRC ambassador to the US Marie-Helene Mathey Boo Lowumba were scheduled to attend the 69th  Annual NAACP  Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner in Detroit, Boyd’s hometown. Biden delivered his keynote speech in the evening without making reference to the failed coup in the Congo. Congolese Ambassador Mathey Boo, however,  was preoccupied with the situation in the DRC and missed the mid-morning VIP reception she was expected to attend. She was present at the 8 p.m. dinner, nevertheless, and was the only foreign dignitary to be honored at the event.


DRC President Tshisekedi was widely criticized for his long delay in forming a new government after winning his bid for re-election in December 2023. On April 1, Tshisekedi named Judith Suminwa as prime minister, the first woman to hold such a high position since the formation of the DRC.  Former chief of staff Vital Kamerhe was appointed as the parliament speaker on May 22. And 10 days after the coup attempt, on May 29, Guy Kabomo Muadiamvita was named the new defense minister along with a total of 54 other ministers and key officials. 

Human Rights Watch, a respected international NGO, called on the DRC government “to ensure that those who took part in the attempted coup are prosecuted in fair trials.” The organization also called on the government to investigate and prosecute the security forces that are allegedly engaged in “extrajudicial killings of coup participants.” A total of six was reported killed in the May 19 attack, including Malanga and two other coup participants, along with two security guards and one civilian, according to HRW.

“The attempted coup occurred at a time when armed conflict in eastern Congo has intensified as Rwandan-backed M23 rebels continue to seize territory around Goma, the capital of North Kivu Province,” the HRW report read.

The failed coup was denounced by the African Union and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), both of which the DRC is a member. The SADC established a regional military support group in January 2024 aimed at defeating or neutralizing the nearly 200 rebel groups that have been active in the Congo for nearly two decades. 

The DRC is considered to be the world’s richest nation in terms of natural and mineral resources, and agricultural potential, yet it remains listed among the world’s five poorest countries  in providing for its population of 105 million. 

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US disavows any link to failed coup: Father-son plot to overthrow Congo government hatched in USA, reports show

By Earnest McBride
June 10, 2024