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Forecast podcast: US citizens allegedly involved in failed DR Congo coup

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Editors Jimmy Lovaas and Ahmed Namatalla discuss the deadly coup attempt in the Democratic Republic of the Congo allegedly involving several Americans, plus more on Japan, China and South Korea holding a summit, the French president visiting Germany, elections in South Africa and monsoon rains arriving in India.

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These stories and others are also available in our free weekly Forecast newsletter.

This episode was produced with work from Factal editors Ahmed Namatalla, Awais Ahmad, Irene Villora, David Wyllie and Owen Bonertz. Produced and edited by Jimmy Lovaas. Music courtesy of Andrew Gospe.

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Factal Forecast podcast transcript

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.


Welcome to the Factal Forecast, a look at the week’s biggest stories and what they mean from the editors at Factal. I’m Jimmy Lovaas.

Today is May 23.

In this week’s forecast we’ve got an attempted coup in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Japan, China and South Korea holding a summit, the French president visiting Germany, elections in South Africa and monsoon rains arriving in India.  

You can also read about these stories and more in our weekly newsletter, which you can find a link to in the show notes.

DR Congo coup attempt

Information compiled by Ahmed Namatalla

JIMMY: Up first, we’ll take a look at the coup attempt in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. For more on that I’ve got the lead for our Africa desk, Ahmed Namatalla. 

JIMMY: Hello, Ahmed. 

AHMED: Hi, Jimmy.

JIMMY: Ahmed, we’re definitely used to unexpected stories, but I’ve got to say this apparent coup attempt in DR Congo seemed to pop up out of nowhere. Can you give us a bit of a recap on what exactly happened this past weekend? 

AHMED: Sure. In the early hours of this past Sunday, a group of militants started firing in the center of Kinshasa, the capital, close to the presidential palace that was not housing the President Felix Tshisekedi at the time. The men also reportedly attacked the residences of the prime minister and defense minister, and a prominent lawmaker who’s also a supporter of the president. This resulted in that lawmaker’s death. There was a firefight with security forces, primarily the military, and then we saw a live stream on Facebook of a group of men inside the palace, led by a man named Christian Malanga. We could also see his son in the video, and other men carrying weapons, and they were calling for the ouster of the president and the establishment of a new regime. They weren’t very specific about their grievances, but they were generally expressing their dissatisfaction with the president’s performance and went on to say that they would establish an entity called New Zaire. It’s worth noting that Zaire was the former name of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

JIMMY: And what’s the latest? What are the newest developments?

AHMED: So, in that firefight and the exchange of gunfire with Congolese security forces, the leader of the group Mr. Malanga was killed. The army announced this and showed photos of his body. His son was arrested along with others. The group includes three Americans, according to the Congolese army, although Mr. Malanga’s US citizenship has not been confirmed by the US side – so we know that there are at least two Americans. And it was quashed pretty quickly. After the uprising was put down, the Congolese army has yet to issue any sort of statement telling us how these men managed to get inside the presidential palace, but it’s clear that the president was not in danger at any point in time during this attack and also that there appears to be no wider support for this group in the Congolese army.

JIMMY: What sort of reactions have you seen to all this?

AHMED: Today, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with the Congolese president. Mr. Blinken condemned the attacks and vowed that the US would cooperate with the Congolese government in the investigation, specifically the involvement of US citizens. There appears to be no official ties of this group with entities in the US, although the leader of this group, Christian Malanga, had been photographed in the past with some US lawmakers. The rest is customary. We’ve seen condemnations come from the country’s allies, but there appears to be no wider fallout from this incident.

JIMMY: Well, I suppose the big question now is then what do you think folks should be watching for next?

AHMED: Well, although the — it appears that the coup plotters did not have a wider following, the attack itself does raise questions about: how did they have access to the presidential palace? So it does raise security questions in that sense. It also brings to light the fragility of the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where, despite the president’s re-election in December, he has been unable – his ruling coalition has been really unable – to form a government. Just today they were able to elect a head of their National Assembly, their parliament, despite having majority of the legislature. They have a lot of issues to tackle including – a, really the most prominent one – the war with Rwandan-backed militants in the country’s east region where, really, they’ve been fighting to a stalemate over the past two years. That conflict has resulted in the deaths of thousands of residents of the region. Recently, we’ve seen attacks on refugee camps – deadly attacks on refugee camps – near the city of Goma, where both sides have blamed each other. But the fact remains that it’s a very deadly situation with almost daily attacks on civilians in the east region. That is probably the biggest issue that the government has to tackle. It has yet to be able to come up with an answer, especially as the militants continue to receive arms and financial backing from neighboring Rwanda.

JIMMY: We’ll, Ahmed, we’ll pause there for today, but as always, thank you so much for getting us caught up. Always appreciate it.

AHMED: Thank you, Jimmy.

Japan, China and South Korea hold two-day summit in Seoul

Information compiled by Awais Ahmad

JIMMY: Japan, China and South Korea will hold a two-day summit in Seoul beginning Sunday.

The summit will revive trilateral cooperation between the three countries, which has been stalled since 2019 due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The leaders are expected to talk through issues discussed by their foreign ministers in November last year, including economy, trade, security and public health.

Now, a lot has changed since the last summit more than four years ago

North Korea has stepped up on its nuclear weapons tests and China has intensified its activities in the South and East China seas. 

The summit also gives China a chance to strengthen its relations with Japan and South Korea, both of which enjoy strong ties with the United States.

Macron visits Germany

Information compiled by Irene Villora

JIMMY: French President Emmanuel Macron will visit Germany starting Sunday. It will be the first state visit of a French head of state to Germany in 24 years.

The visit was originally scheduled for July 2023, but was postponed due to riots in France over the fatal police shooting of Nahel Merzouk

The three-day visit will include events to commemorate the foundation of post-WWII West Germany and the end of Communist rule in East Germany. 

It will also include the celebration of a Franco-German council of ministers in Meseberg and a peace prize award for the French president in Münster.

Now, the visit aims to project an image of close cooperation between both countries amid reports of disagreements between Scholz and Macron on matters like defense, nuclear energy policies and trade. 

Macron also seeks to reinforce pro-European values through official events and speeches during his visit. 

It comes amid growing Eurosceptic sentiments among French voters ahead of the EU parliament elections in June.

South Africa general elections

Information compiled by David Wyllie

JIMMY: South Africans will vote in elections on Wednesday.

It’ll be a closely-watched contest as the ruling African National Congress party (ANC) hopes to hold on to power in the country’s seventh fully democratic election since 1994.

The ruling ANC party, headed by President Cyril Ramaphosa is under growing pressure from South Africans who are dissatisfied with economic inequality, power outages and corruption. 

South Africa is Africa’s largest economy but remains plagued by frequent power outages and economic conditions exacerbated by an unemployment rate that has risen to 32 percent

The main opposition’s Democratic Alliance party has floated the idea of privatization as a way of solving some of the country’s economic problems and hopes to peel off some voters by promising to tackle unemployment.

Now, while the ANC has held power since the first democratic post-apartheid election in 1994, it risks dropping below 50 percent of the vote, meaning it may not secure a majority in the country’s parliament

Still, opinion polling in recent weeks has shown an increase in support for the party, meaning it might only need a small coalition partner to govern or could defy expectation and win an outright majority. 

South Africa’s Parliament is expected to pick the country’s president, who acts as both head of state and head of government. That will happen on the first day of its new session with the head of the majority party expected to take office.

Monsoon season begins in southern India

Information compiled by Owen Bonertz

JIMMY: India’s seasonal monsoon rains are expected to arrive on the country’s southern tip next Friday.

The rains have already come ahead of schedule in India’s Nicobar Islands, and the system will reach the far southern tip of Kerala and Tamil Nadu slightly early before moving northwest across the subcontinent.

As you may recall, while last year’s El Niño-affected monsoon season brought roughly 5 percent less rain than an average year, it still killed more than 600 people between June and September.

It also boosted inflation across India and hurt crop yields.

India’s massive agricultural sector relies heavily on a strong monsoon season, as nearly half of the country’s crops are grown without irrigation

Now, Indian meteorologists are projecting 2024’s monsoon season to bring more rain than a typical year as La Niña conditions are expected to develop in the Pacific Ocean. 

Other factors signaling greater rainfall include a strong temperature delta between the western and eastern Indian Ocean, and low snow cover in the northern hemisphere. 

Rainfall totals will differ across the country, with lower-than-average precipitation projected for the northeastern states.

JIMMY: As always, thank you for listening to the Factal Forecast. We publish our forward-looking podcast and newsletter each Thursday to help you get a jump-start on the week ahead. Please subscribe and review wherever you find your podcasts. We’d love it if you’d consider telling a friend about us.  

Today’s episode was produced with work from Factal editors Awais Ahmad, Irene Villora, David Wyllie and Owen Bonertz. Our interview featured editor Ahmed Namatalla and our podcast is produced and edited by me – Jimmy Lovaas. Our music comes courtesy of Andrew Gospe.

Until next time, if you have any feedback, suggestions or events we’ve missed, drop us a note by emailing

This transcript may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability not guaranteed. 

Copyright © 2024 Factal. All rights reserved.

Music: ‘Factal Theme’ courtesy of Andrew Gospe

Top photo: Photo of the Palais de la Nation (Kinshasa)taken in 1986

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