Christian Malanga, slain leader of failed DR Congo coup, sold cars in Utah when he lived in the US

The slain leader of a failed coup attempt to overthrow the Congolese president used to live in the United States where he was a car dealer in Utah after resettling as a teen refugee decades ago.

Christian Malanga was killed during an attack on the presidential palace after he resisted arrest, a spokesperson with the Democratic Republic of Congo army told outlets Sunday.

He was among six people, including four attackers, killed during the short-lived uprising, according to the spokesperson.

In an online biography cited by Reuters, Malanga, 41, said he moved to the US with his family as part of a refugee resettlement program in the late 1990s. The bio said moving to Salt Lake City, Utah, “changed Mr. Malanga’s life.”

Christian Malanga was killed during an attack on the presidential palace, a spokesperson told outlets on Sunday. Flickr

Malanga, a father of eight, was a car dealer for a period of time in Utah before he returned to the Congo to serve as an officer battling rebels and then later ran for office to fight government corruption.

He claimed he was arrested and briefly detained on “bogus charges” in 2011 and later went back to the US the following year where he founded the United Congolese Party. He invoked President John F. Kennedy’s famous words, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country,” as the inspiration behind his political movement.

But Malanga was also caught up in numerous legal problems.

He was convicted in Utah on allegations including assault with a firearm that led to a 30-day jail sentence when he was 18 in 2001. Later that year, he was charged with domestic violence assault and battery in separate incidents, but the cases were later tossed.

Christian Malanga was among six people, including four attackers, killed during the short-lived uprising. Flickr

Three years later he was charged again with domestic violence, but that case was also dismissed.

Other legal turmoil include child custody and child support fights.

Malanga also referred to himself as the “President of New Zaire” government in exile and while he previously threatened on social media to overthrow the Congo government, he called off an attempted coup in 2017, an army spokesperson said.

Sunday’s doomed coup came to a sudden end when he was killed and 50 other perpetrators, including three Americans, were detained.

Christian Malanga, 41 with his son Marcel Malanga, 21. Christian Malanga / Facebook

Malanga’s 21-year-old son, Marcel was one of the Americans arrested. He was born in the US where he played high school football and later posted on social media posing with piles of dollars bills and talking about women.

But he followed his father to Africa, the boy’s mother, Brittney Sawyer, angrily wrote in a Facebook post.

“This was an innocent boy following his father. I’m so tired of all the videos being posted all over and being sent to me,” she wrote, according to the Associated Press. “God will take care of you people!”

Another US citizen captured was identified as Benjamin Reuben Zalman-Polun, whose apparent connection to Malanga was through a gold mining company that was founded in Mozambique in 2022, according to an official journal published by Mozambique’s government and a report by Africa Intelligence newsletter.

Malanga, 41, said he moved to the US with his family as part of a refugee resettlement program in the late 1990s.

He also started a commodity trading business, as well as working as an Uber driver and courier, according to records. He also has a criminal background.

Zalman-Polun pleaded guilty in 2014 to federal drug trafficking charges after prosecutors accused him of working with a friend to send at least 20 kilograms of marijuana from a Lake Tahoe home to other locations across the US.

The central African’s army also identified Patrick Ducey and Taylor Thomson as other Americans involved, but noted he was the same person with “two different identities,” CNN reported.

“We’re going to check his passport,” the army spokesperson told the outlet. 

With Post wires

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