Congo arrests 32 in alleged pre-election coup plot Joshua Pantesco at 11:29 AM ET
[JURIST] Government officials in the Congo [JURIST news archive] said Wednesday that 32 American, South African, and Nigerian nationals have been arrested in connection with an alleged coup attempt aimed at destabilizing the country before the July 30 national elections, though critics allege the arrests were politically motivated. Those arrested were employed in Congo by the US firm Omega Risk Solutions [corporate website], a security provider hired by presidential candidate Dr. Oscar Kashala [campaign website], who is running along with 32 other candidates [Xinhua report] against current Congolese President Joseph Kabila [BBC profile] in the first elections in Congo in forty years. The government did not provide details about the alleged planned coup; one anonymous security official suggested the coup may never have been planned at all, and opposition leaders say the arrests were planned by the government to disrupt legal political activity.
Kabila's eligibility as a presidential candidate was challenged [JURIST report] in court last month by a political group alleging that his ties to the military prohibit him from holding office under a 2005 constitutional referendum [JURIST report] that makes army, police and civil service workers ineligible to seek public office unless they procure a letter from the government indicating that they have been dismissed from service. The Congolese Independent Election Commission has defended Kabila's eligibility because the Army does not list him as an active member. Congo adopted the constitution [JURIST report] mandated by the referendum last February, which many hope will bring stability to the war-torn country. Reuters has more.
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