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Refugees from DRC arrive at a camp in Uganda Refugees from DRC arrive at a camp in Uganda  (AFP or licensors)

DRC bishops concerned about political crisis

The bishops of the Democratic Republic of Congo issue a strong statement denouncing the persistent aggravation of the country's socio-political crisis. They say the Church's only concern is to contribute to the welfare of the entire Congolese people.

By Fr. Paul Samasumo

At the end of their Extraordinary Assembly which took place in the capital Kinshasa from 15th  to 17th  February 2018, the bishops of the Democratic Republic of Congo issued a strong message denouncing the persistent aggravation of the country's socio-political crisis.

Stressing that the Church, as the Body of Christ, is not submitted to any political organization, the bishops said that the only concern of the Church is to contribute to the welfare of the entire Congolese people, to safeguard and to promote the dignity of the human person, respect for life, freedom, and fundamental rights.

The bishops voiced their concern in front of the appalling and frightening deterioration of the situation in the country, where ordinary, innocent citizens are victims of bloody repressions. They denounced the attacks on Catholic institutions, as well as a smear campaign and the defamation of the Catholic Church and its hierarchy, in particular against the person of Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo, Archbishop of Kinshasa.

They noted  the  extension of insecurity zones in various parts of the country and the non-respect of signed agreements, wondering how such environment can lead to the expected free and democratic elections in ten months.

Highlighting the right of every Congolese to fight anything that may jeopardize his future and paying homage to the innocent dead and wounded, the bishops appealed to the entire Congolese people to take control of their own destiny.

Also, they made a few recommendations:

1. It’s imperative to move towards the 2018 elections. To that end, the 31 December 2016 political agreement must be integrally applied and the political climate must be defused;

2. Edicts prohibiting peaceful demonstrations must be cancelled and legal action must be taken against those who have committed acts of violence and killings during the marches organized by the Lay Coordination Committee. Appropriate measures need to be taken to supervise peaceful demonstrations and marches  as it happens in other countries and places around the world;

3. Put an end to the prosecution and threats to the organizers of peaceful marches who have only exercised their right recognized by the Constitution;

4. Create credible and effective authority of the State to safeguard the integrity of the National territory, protect the borders of the country and ensure the safety of the population and its property;

5. The International Community is requested to pursue the accompaniment of the electoral process in the DRC in the interest and the good of the Congolese people.

21 February 2018, 15:15