- By John Hudson
John Hudson is a staff writer for Foreign Policy where he chases down stories from Foggy Bottom to the White House, the Pentagon to Embassy Row. Between 2009 and 2012, John covered politics and global affairs for The Atlantic Wire. In 2008, he covered the August War between Russia and Georgia for Salon.com and other news outlets. Over the years, he's dug up resignation-causing FEC documents; unmasked world-famous Internet trolls; exposed bizarre Photoshopping by government media; and revealed a secret Iranian military facility. John's weakness is cold craft beer from his birthplace of Grand Rapids, Michigan. He's appeared on MSNBC, BBC, C-SPAN, Fox News radio, and other broadcast outlets.
He’s got a winning smile, but the Democratic Republic of Congo isn’t laughing.
Belgian member of parliament Laurent Louis, pictured above, was accused of conspiring to overthrow the Congolese government on Friday in an alleged plot that included the assassination of Congo’s president, Joseph Kabila.
The bizarre story centers on a Belgian doctor named Jean-Pierre Kanku Mukendi and an ex-cop named Isidore Madimba Mongombe who were arrested last month before confessing to the plot. Mukendi and Mongombe claim Louis was also involved in the conspiracy, which included "small quantity of weapons" and the goal of assassinating Kabila. Reuters has the details:
"(Mukendi) admitted that this plan to attack the city of Kinshasa and physically eliminate the head of state was adopted at a large meeting presided by himself on January 20 in Kinshasa," he said.
Muyej claimed Mukendi had, while living in Belgium, founded a group called "Mouvement Debout Congolais", or the Arise Congolese Movement, with the assistance of a member of Belgium’s Chamber of Representatives.
"With the help of the Belgian member of parliament Laurent Louis, he increased his meetings with Congolese compatriots … in the aim of preparing and finalizing their project to overthrow (Congo’s) institutions," he said.
Louis admitted to Reuters that he opposed Congo’s ruling party, but denied any role in attempting to overthrow the government. "I am opposed to violence … What’s more, these meetings were totally public. There weren’t any secret meetings to plot this or that," he said.
So at this point, it’s Louis’s word against the Congolese government’s. Details about this toothy-grinned Belgian are slim. According to Congolese reports from the last year (translated through Google Translate), Laurent has consistently opposed Kabila’s leadership. In the biography on his website, he says he was born in 1980 and learned "respect of certain values such as hard work, respect and justice." The only mention of Congo is in a section about his fondest memory: Meeting Étienne Tshisekedi, a longtime Congolese opposition leader and former prime minister of the country (formerly called Zaire). Time to hire a lawyer?