A spokesman for Democratic Republic of Congo has dismissed the importance of a National Episcopal Conference of the Congo (CENCO) bishops’ statement on Friday that said the appointment of Bruno Tshibala as prime minister was a breach of the December 31 political agreement CENCO mediated.
Spokesman Lambert Mende told Congolese media that CENCO no longer had any role or stake in the political process. As a private religious group, CENCO is entitled to express an opinion but that has no influence on President Joseph Kabila or DR Congo’s secular institutions moving forward, he said.
The response came as CENCO called for the full implementation of a power-sharing agreement with the Rassemblement political opposition leaders that has not materialized. The president’s April 7 selection of Tshibala as prime minister violates their understanding of the agreed-upon process for doing so.
“CENCO deplores the fact that the consultations between the Head of State and the Head of Delegation of the Rally at the negotiations at which the Prime Minister was to be appointed did not take place,” the CENCO statement said.
Although Tshibala is a longtime member of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) party, he was removed from the party a month ago during internal struggles between two wings of the opposition movement.
The death of Etienne Tshisekedi, who was expected to lead a year-long process toward elections postponed by Kabila, created a power struggle between factions supporting his son Felix and those aligned with Tshibala.
The culturally influential CENCO met with the younger Tshisekedi to discuss the transition in early March, but the bishops denied that they refused to cooperate with the Tshibala-Olenga Nkoy wing of UDPS.
File Image: Government of DR Congo