In a bleak assessment of current conditions in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the influential Roman Catholic bishops have issued a call to Congolese to stand up and, drawing from the language of the nation’s anthem, “build a country more beautiful than today.”
“It is imperative to involve ourselves, to take our destiny into our own hands,” the bishops said in a lengthy statement detailing economic woes, political crisis, and the escalating and catastrophic violence in the Kasai provinces and elsewhere. At the root of the DR Congo’s dysfunction, they said, is the refusal of President Joseph Kabila and his government to hold elections in keeping with the constitution.
The National Episcopal Conference of the Congo (CENCO) bishops played a pivotal role in brokering a December 31, 2016 agreement that would move the nation toward elections postponed by Kabila last fall. The agreement between Kabila and the country’s PPRD ruling party, and the Rassemblement coalition of opposition political parties, was received with cautious optimism but quickly stalled.
Its implementation was further derailed by the death of longtime Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) leader Etienne Tshisekedi, who had been expected to lead Rassemblement forward.
“Compliance and full implementation by signatories must be demanded,” the CENCO statement said, condemning as unacceptable that millions of Congolese lives are being held hostage by a minority of its citizens. “The peaceful exit of the current crisis requires that the presidential, legislative and provincial elections be held before December 2017.”
Image: Government of DR Congo File