Wed Feb 13, 2013 1:1AM
A man charged with plotting a coup against the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo says he is the son of former Congolese President Laurent Kabila. Etienne Taratibu Kabila, who is currently being held in detention in South Africa, made the remarks on Tuesday. He also claimed that Congolese President Joseph Kabila is not the true son of Laurent Kabila. However, the Congolese government says the man is not the son of the former president and has dismissed all his allegations. Congolese President Joseph Kabila was reelected in November 2011 in an election described by international observers as "lacking credibility." Etienne Kabila, who turned himself in to the South African police, is allegedly the leader of 19 other rebels arrested in South Africa on February 5. The 19 people were arrested in South Africa in the northern province of Limpopo. Etienne Kabila’s case was postponed until Thursday so it could be joined to the case of the other 19 suspects. The 20 suspects are believed to belong to a group called Union des Nationaliste pour le Renouveau (Union of Nationalists for Renewal). Last Tuesday, Congolese government spokesman Lambert Mende said the country’s officials had "known for a long time that there have been activities outside the country.” In addition, Congo is currently trying to contain rebels from the March 23 movement, which has been fighting the country’s army in North Kivu province since May 2013. The M23 rebels seized the eastern city of Goma on November 20 after UN peacekeepers gave up the battle for the frontier city, which is home to about one million people. The rebels withdrew from the city on December 1 under a ceasefire accord. The M23 rebels defected from the Congolese army in April 2012 in protest over alleged mistreatment in the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC). They had previously been integrated into the Congolese army under a peace deal signed in 2009. Since early May 2012, nearly 3 million people have fled their homes in the eastern Congo. About 2.4 million have resettled in Congo, but more than 460,000 have crossed into neighboring Rwanda and Uganda. Congo has faced numerous problems over the past few decades, such as grinding poverty, crumbling infrastructure, and a war in the east of the country that has dragged on since 1998 and left over 5.5 million people dead. NT/HGL