By Joachim Teigen
The President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Félix- Antoine Tshisekedi, met with Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo in the presidential palace in Kinshasa on Monday. Cardinal Ambongo is the Archbishop of the nation’s capital, and the vice-president of the Bishops’ Conference.
The reason for the meeting was the upcoming audience of the President with Pope Francis in the Vatican.
“Incomprehensible how human beings can behave like this”
According to the Palace’s own Twitter page, the discussion also turned to Cardinal Ambongo’s visit to the North Kivu region in eastern Congo last December.
“I witnessed a traumatised population” the Cardinal said, adding that “it’s impossible to comprehend how human beings can behave like this towards their own brothers and sisters. As a pastor, this affected me profoundly.”
Flashpoint of military conflict
The region has been one of the more politically unstable parts of the country, with ongoing conflicts going back to the end of the 90s. Facing each other in the conflicts are ethnic groups, militias and rebel groups, Islamists and army forces, all while the civilian population suffer under raids and violent attacks.
In later years, the situation has also been fuelled by interest in the region’s natural resources, as well as the Ebola epidemic which is still ongoing in North Kivu.
After the meeting, the Cardinal said that the President is determined in finding a solution to the situation, and that he intends using all means to put an end to the bloodshed. The President had also reassured him that the territorial integrity of the nation would be respected, and that no part of the country would be erased from the map.
Cardinal Ambongo affirmed that “we seek to accompany, encourage, and pray for those suffering, but it is also our duty to challenge the authorities, the head of state, to reinforce the armies efforts to put an end to this situation”.