DR Congo: Cardinal Ambongo invites voters to register for 2023 elections
By Fr. Stanislas Kambashi, SJ
In view of upcoming General Elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo, scheduled for 20 December 2023, Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu, the Archbishop of Kinshasa, visited the CENI (Independent Electoral Commission) on Tuesday to be registered to vote.
The centre at the Saint-Raphaël Catholic School opened its doors for registrations on 24 December, along with numerous other centres in the country's ten provinces.
'To be enrolled is a civic duty'
Speaking to Vatican News, Cardinal Ambongo stated that "elections have always been a source of hope for the Congolese population for a real change in quality in the management of the country."
He explained that the Church in the country has always participated in civic and electoral education, particularly through the training of electoral observers, because it believes that "good elections can open up new prospects for our country and for our people."
Enrollment is a small but fundamental gesture
Cardinal Ambongo has sent a message to the people in DRC aiming to raise awareness and inviting them to register en masse.
The Archbishop of Kinshasa hopes that the candidates will be serious and offer good social projects for the country and its people who have been suffering for over three decades now. Politics is an ethical project, said the Cardinal.
Pope Francis' visit to be 'a boost for Congo'
Cardinal Ambongo also spoke about Pope Francis' upcoming visit to DRC from 31 January to 3 February, noting that the papal visit goes beyond religious confessions: it is the entire Congolese population that awaits the Holy Father, he said.
In his view, this visit will be "a boost, an encouragement to regain confidence in the future" for this people who are unsure where to turn for guidance. "The Pope comes to give us hope and confirm our faith," he said.
Ppreparing future with responsibility
For the year 2023, the Cardinal launches a message of hope to his fellow citizens. The situation that the Congolese people are experiencing, he noted, is one of "extreme distress", suffering and hunger, with "killings in the eastern provinces where people are thrown into the streets, driven out of their homes and of work", and also in the western territory of Kwamouth and the surrounding area.
Despite this gloomy picture , Cardinal Ambongo invites everyone not to lose hope and to prepare their future with responsibility, because God is at the end of the road and will intervene in His time, despite human frailty.
Warning against plundering of Church land
Cardinal Ambongo also expresses his concern about a "tendency to despoil the land" of dioceses and religious congregations, acquired before independence.
In Kinshasa in particular, "there is a kind of group of predators", made up, he alleged, of senior officials from the State, the Judiciary and the Army, who go around the city confiscating entire plots of land on the basis of false certificates.
The Cardinal mentioned the case of a plot of land in the district of Funa, reserved for the construction of a basilica, that of the Grand Seminary John XXIII and that of CENCO (the Catholic Bishops Conference of Congo) - located around Lake Ma Vallée.
According to the Cardinal Archbishop of Kinshasa, the Catholic Church is experiencing the same predation which is also experienced by ordinary citizens.
"Ordinary people are also having their land and concessions taken away from them and they cannot defend themselves against this mafia, and this creates a lot of frustration. In accordance with the Framework Agreement between the Holy See and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Archdiocese has referred the matter to the authorities, who have given instructions to resolve the problem," he said.
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