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troung
26 May 06,, 19:58
24 May, 2006 (Wednesday)
26 Security Workers Suspected

By Craig Timberg
Washington Post Foreign Service
JOHANNESBURG, -- Three Americans were among at least 26 security workers arrested and jailed last week in Congo on suspicion of plotting a coup in advance of national elections in July, officials and news services reported Wednesday.

Fifteen of the suspects are employed by a South African security company, Omega Risk Solutions, which has offices in Pretoria, the South African capital. A company official, Christo Roelefse, said the Americans who were arrested work for two U.S. companies that are arranging security and logistics for the campaign of a presidential candidate in Congo. The other suspects are Nigerians.

From Kinshasa, the capital of Congo, Interior Minister Theophile Mbemba told the Associated Press that 32 men were arrested Friday with military gear. "It is clear that they were military personnel with political plans. . . . They were part of a coup attempt, and they will face justice in Congo."

A spokesman for the South African Foreign Ministry, Ronnie Mamoepa, said the arrests were made on the grounds of "alleged destabilization of government institutions" but that no charges have been filed.

News of the arrests became public Wednesday in Congo, a troubled central African nation uneasily emerging from years of dictatorship and war. Presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled for July 30.

Few details of the alleged plot have emerged.

Officials from the United Nations and the security company have reportedly questioned the allegations.

"We are not concerned about this, it appears to be a case of political manipulation by Congo's government," said Jean-Tobias Okala, a U.N. spokesman in Kinshasa, according to the Associated Press. "We have almost 18,000 troops here to achieve our goal of peaceful and transparent elections."

Omega Risk Solutions said in a statement issued from Pretoria that employees from its Congolese subsidiary had been contracted by the government to upgrade a port facility and by an American company to provide security for Oscar Kashala, a Congolese presidential candidate who holds U.S. and Congolese citizenship.

There was no immediate protest or other formal action by the South African government, and Mamoepa said it was not yet clear whether those holding South African passports were citizens of the country.

"We will have to await the outcome of these investigations," Mamoepa said.

Confed999
28 May 06,, 00:53
If it's true, I hope it's successful...

troung
28 May 06,, 01:43
The investagation?

Confed999
28 May 06,, 01:53
The investagation?
The coup. ;)

troung
28 May 06,, 02:07
If this is true then they should all be shot...

[Rant mode on]

A new crop of dicators are the last thing the Congo needs. I'm hoping for a somewhat decent election, my mother always told me I was a dreamer.

I'm down to the point where mercanaries should be banned from Africa. If France wants to save a dictator then let them deploy combat troops and take the flak from that and not hide (first Congo war). Same goes for other nations, nut up and take the flak or stop supporting the unsupportable.

And using foreigners for a coup and to provide protection really shows the lack of internal legitimacy these tin hats actually have. Any leader forced to rent entire combat units (Zaire for example) lacks real support among the population they rule.

At the very least (tragically at best) they would be forced to invest in their population to produce pilots, combat ready officers and infantry and mechanics. But they choose of course not to do so because educated people can become a risk for a dictator.

And at worst spears come back into vouge...

Confed999
28 May 06,, 02:14
Personally I do not trust the current government, and am willing to chance that whatever replaced it could be better. Either way, the elections are going to happen, how "peaceful and transparent" they will be, remains to be seen.

troung
28 May 06,, 04:52
Actually a government that relies on paying off foreigners top put it into power already has a couple strikes against it...

Confed999
28 May 06,, 05:57
Actually a government that relies on paying off foreigners top put it into power already has a couple strikes against it...
Who paid them? And isn't that how the one that's there got there, and stayed there, too?

troung
28 May 06,, 06:22
do you have aim???

Confed999
28 May 06,, 06:24
do you have aim???
Sure, you can click the AIM icon in my info to add me, or just add "Confed999" to your buddy list. ;)

troung
28 May 06,, 06:29
Ok...

We will discuss this better in the next couple days.

Confed999
28 May 06,, 06:34
Ok...

We will discuss this better in the next couple days.
Can talk about it here too. ;) But you, or anyone else, may always feel free to add me and stop by for a chat. :cool:

troung
29 May 06,, 02:33
Congo deports foreigners held over "coup plot"
By David Lewis

KINSHASA (Reuters) - Congo has released a group of South Africans, Nigerians and Americans arrested over what it called a suspected coup plot, saying it did not have time to try them itself before long-awaited national elections in July.

Congo said on Wednesday it had detained the 32 foreigners for planning a coup ahead of the presidential and parliamentary polls. Diplomats and security sources said the arrests were about domestic political rivalries and dismissed talk of a plot.

"We expelled them yesterday. We don't have time to try them ourselves as we are in the middle of organising elections," government spokesman Henri Mova Sakanyi said.

"We've discussed the issue with their respective governments and we've sent them to be dealt with by their own countries."

Most of the men were South African employees of a Pretoria-based security firm and had been providing security training for Congo's National Transport Authority.

But some were advising a Congolese presidential candidate, Harvard-trained doctor Oscar Kashala, one of 32 contenders vying with President Joseph Kabila for the country's top job.

A security source said the men had been released because there was no evidence to back up claims of a coup plot and their detention had drawn sharp criticism from international donors.

"This had become a big embarrassment for us," the security source said.

POLITICAL GAMES

Government officials accused the foreign security experts of trying to destabilise Democratic Republic of Congo before its first free national polls in four decades.

But a group of diplomats from countries including the United States, Britain, Russia, China and France accused the government of exploiting the allegations to harass political opponents.

Kashala, a wealthy Harvard-trained doctor who has lived in the United States, said the arrests were part of a campaign by the government to intimidate him and others and undermine their election chances.

South African officials said 19 South Africans had been deported in connection with the plot allegations. A representative of the company they worked for later confirmed they had arrived in South Africa.

"They have been released and ... all charges have been dropped," Sisa Ngombane, South African ambassador to Congo, told Reuters in Kinshasa.

A Western diplomat said the Americans who had been detained had left on a flight late on Saturday and confirmed that the Nigerians had also been released.

The July 30 polls will be the first multi-party elections in four decades in the former Belgian colony, a nation roughly the size of Western Europe lying in the heart of Africa.

They are meant to draw a line under Congo's latest war, which was officially declared over in 2003. The conflict triggered a humanitarian crisis that has killed 4 million people since it began in 1998.

(Additional reporting by Ed Stoddard in Johannesburg)

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Last updated: 28-May-06 19:45 BST