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François Beya case: "palace war" or question of national security?

Francois Beya

In the DRC, the arrest of the former presidential security adviser, François Beya, last Saturday has still not revealed his secrets. In the meantime, the replacement for "Mister Information" has already been named. The presidency, for its part, evokes threats to national security.

This Tuesday evening, a press release from the presidency of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) announced the replacement of the special security adviser, François Beya.

Beya's assistant, Jean-Claude Bukasa, will act in the interim, "given the impediment" of his superior, we read in the presidential document.

François Beya was arrested last Saturday by the National Intelligence Agency (ANR). Beya was, until his arrest, the strong man of the Congolese intelligence services. He had rubbed shoulders with four presidents since the early 1990s. His appointment to the president's cabinet was part of the deal between the current DRC president, Felix Tshisekedi, and his predecessor, Joseph Kabila.

Since François Beya's arrest, no concrete details have leaked out as to the reason for his arrest. Public opinion evokes a "palace war", with a desire to "dekabilization" at the head of power. According to sources close to the government, it was an attempted coup that was behind this arrest.

Shortly after François Beya's replacement was appointed, presidential spokesman Kasongo Mwema made the first official statement on the subject. But Mwema remained vague, simply stating that the ANR had "sufficiently serious indications" supporting a "threat to national security".

“No attempt to destabilize our democratic institutions will be tolerated”, insists the spokesperson for the presidency.

Sweep in the security apparatus?

Four days have passed since the arrest of François Beya. But it's been weeks that "Fantômas" is no longer part of the seraglio. In December, Jean-Hervé Biosha was appointed head of the ANR, which Beya has not controlled since.

Beya's ally, former head of the ANR, Kalev Mutond, has also been dismissed. During the last Security Council in the DRC, on February 3, François Beya had not been invited, proof that he seemed to be offside.

With regard to the charge of "destabilizing", the reduced number of arrests of those responsible suggests that, if there was a coup attempt, it did not go beyond the planning phase.

As for the hypothesis of a "palace war", the press believes that "Tshisekedi is cleaning up the securocrats". Some observers recall the case of the mysterious death of the former head of military intelligence, Delphin Kahimbi, who allegedly committed suicide in February 2020 after being dismissed and questioned by François Beya. Still others speak of a case of mining conflict between Beya and another adviser to the president, Fortunat Biselele.

However, everyone recalls that the proximity between François Beya and Joseph Kabila is, by far, the most likely reason for the fall from grace of "Fantômas".

Be that as it may, the journalist Christophe Rigaud affirms that if François Beya "who was believed to be untouchable" was preparing "a coup in the DRC", his arrest should "deter budding putschists". According to Rigaud, the sidelining of Beya remains politically advantageous for Félix Tshisekedi, who succeeded in "regaining political power in the assembly", in "removing possible rivals or inconveniences like Vital Kamerhe and Jean-Marc Kabund" and to "sweep the security apparatus".

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