The Roman Catholic bishops who helped negotiate last year’s December 31 agreement on new elections in Democratic Republic of Congo have called on President Joseph Kabila to make clear he will not seek a third term.
The National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) bishops released their statement during a press conference Monday at the Interdiocesan Center in Kinshasa.
“We urge you to reassure the public opinion by a public statement that you will not be a candidate for your own succession,” CENCO said. “We are convinced that this would contribute to easing political tensions.”
Kabila refused last year to hold elections at the end of his constitutionally mandated second and final term, and was supposed to leave office by December 19, 2016. His failure to do so has led to political violence in DR Congo, where the deal brokered by CENCO has not been implemented. It called for a power-sharing structure with the Rassemblement opposition meant to move the nation to elections this year. Kabila’s government, citing finances, logistics and other reasons, has consistently stalled the process, which was complicated by the death of Etienne Tshisekedi in February.
“We find that there is no significant advance,” the bishops said. “The political imbroglio and the suffering of the population which results from it exceed the tolerable threshold. We are deeply disappointed to find ourselves in the same context of tension as at the end of 2016.
“The people will not tolerate this being repeated in 2018.”
The publishing of an electoral calendar earlier this month hasn’t resolved those tensions.
“CENCO wishes to remind all political actors and the entire Congolese people that the New Year’s Eve Agreement is not dead,” the statement said. “It is and remains the only consensual roadmap to emerge from this political crisis that has lasted too long.”
Image: Presidency of DR Congo file