Congo: Bishops plea for piece amidst new wave of violence

An appeal has been made by Bishops from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for peace and democracy after the postponement of elections has created fear that political violence could escalate.

Secretary General of the Catholic Bishop’s conference, Father Leonard Santedi, said:

“ Blocking the electoral process would create a worrying situation which risks plunging the country into chaos.”

After many dozens of people were killed in political violence in the capital of Kinshasa, the Catholic Bishops have suspended their participation in talks. The Congonese President, Joseph Kabila announced that he was postponing elections due to the violence. The violence is strongly condemned by the Bishops, who have reminded the Congonese people that they are brothers, not enemies, and are compatriots of a State that they must develop and grow together and not destroy.

The Bishops have added conditions to their participation in further talks, including that the President must be clearly established, that the current President will not be a candidate for the next election, and that the election date will be established by agreement.

There is now increasing concern among the international community with regard to the situation in Congo. The UN Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, has said:
“The large number of civilian victims, the burning of the headquarters of various political parties and the increasingly tense situation are a clear warning that a major crisis could break out very soon.”

Further negotiations remain blocked, with the national talks – which would seek to set a date for the presidential election – currently suspended. At the same time, the violence threatens to worsen.

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