Agenzia Fides –Kinshasa, DRC
“We must have strong institutions, not strong men," says Thierry Nlandu Mayamba, one of the members of the Comité Laïc de Coordination (CLC), a Catholic Church lay organisation in the Democratic Republic of Congo. CLC made headlines when it led demonstrations in the last two years to force former President Joseph Kabila not to run for a third unconstitutional term.
The demonstrations promoted by CLC led to bloody clashes with the authorities, especially in the capital Kinshasa. Demonstrators were targeted and persecuted by security forces.
Since 2017, because of his activism, university Professor Nlandu, like others belonging to the CLC, was forced to hide and live underground. Now after the election of Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi as new President of Congo, members of the CLC have regained full freedom of movement.
Professor Nlandu tells Fides about his experience.
Respect for the Constitution is something new
Today there is a new President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and you are finally free. Can we say that you have accomplished your mission?
"In the context of Central Africa, where most of the Presidents have changed the Constitution to try to obtain a new mandate, the fact that our Constitution has been respected is a new fact. The Congolese people moved to say no and managed to win.
Although their transparency and credibility are questionable, elections were held, and this shows that the people have defeated dictatorship. It is fabulous! And it is also a message for the new President. He must really be the guarantor of the Constitution. The people will not allow him to govern for more than two terms".
People need to be proactive
What did you learn from this experience?
"First of all, I realise that people have understood that they have to become proactive. Everything that happens to them happens because you accept it. Now the people have become aware of this. And if they continue in this way, they will manage to impose their demands on the leaders. Everyone's desire is to create strong institutions, not strong men. If we obtain this, we will succeed in establishing democracy in our Country.
I have also discovered a laity that emerges and takes the lead. But in the face of a laity, which raises the question of good governance, we must expect the same laypersons to ask the same issues within the same Church".
Losing loved ones was a tragedy
Finally, a thought for the victims of the demonstrations organised by the CLC ...
"There are no words sufficiently relevant for the suffering of the people who lost their loved ones -especially in the context of our country, where sometimes the hope of an entire family is placed on a young student. Losing this person is a tragedy that simple words cannot console. The only thought, as a Christian, is to find comfort in prayer and to continue to believe that God loves us."