Belgian expats ‘calm’after failed Congo coup
11 June 2004
BRUSSELS – Belgian expats living in the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) were staying at home as a precautionary measure but had not been unduly worried by a failed coup attempt in the central African country, the Belgian foreign ministry said on Friday.
The coup attempt happened late on Thursday night when a major in the DRC army, Eric Lengue, announced on national radio and television that he had taken power of the country.
Aside from taking the television building in DRC capital Kinshasa, Lengue and his men also briefly gained control of a power station, leaving the city without power until early on Friday morning.
The coup attempt failed however and on Friday DRC President Joseph Kabila appeared on television to say that the country’s institutions were all “in place” and that the regular army had arrested “a dozen or so” of the rebels.
Lengue was still at large however, the President admitted.
In the aftermath of the coup attempt the Belgian foreign ministry said that Belgians living in Kinshasa had been told to stay in their homes on Friday.
The Belgian school in Kinshasa had also been closed, the ministry added.
Belgian news agency Belga reported the ministry as saying that no Belgian citizens had been worried by the coup attempt in any way.
The DRC is a former Belgian colony and there is a sizeable Belgian community in Kinshasa.
But despite the Foreign Ministry’s declarations, Belgian airline SN Brussels said on Friday that it would once again be cancelling flights to Kinshasa.
The carrier suspended flights earlier this week, citing the unstable security situation in the central African state.
The DRC is currently being ruled by a transitional government made up of members who previously fought each other in a bloody civil war.
The government is supposed to organise democratic elections next year.
But it has been dogged by political unrest.
Last week two renegade generals who the DRC authorities allege were supported by neighbouring Rwanda seized the north eastern town of Bukavu for several days, sparking widespread demonstrations across the country.
[Copyright Expatica 2004]
Subject: Belgian news