“Ruling coalition has lost its purpose,”: Congolese Cardinal at Independence Anniversary

Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo, Archbishop of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Credit: Public Domain

The Archbishop of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo, used the occasion of the celebration marking 60 years since the Central African nation gained its independence from Belgium to make known his thoughts about the unity government.

“The ruling coalition has lost its purpose. Instead of working together around a common program of governance, the members of the coalition no longer trust each other. They have developed a dangerous relationship of rivalry that risks dragging the whole country into chaos,” Cardinal Ambongo said June 30 during the Eucharistic celebration organized for the DRC’s independence diamond jubilee.

The coalition only exists “in name,” the Cardinal said, adding, “On both sides, there is a lack of love, the heart is no longer at work.”

“It is the responsibility of those who have joined forces, the President and the former President, to break up this coalition, which conditions the development of our country,” Cardinal Ambongo told a limited congregation at the Our Lady of Congo Cathedral, Kinshasa on Tuesday, June 30.

President Felix Tshisekedi took office in January 2019 from Joseph Kabila following the 30 December 2018 general elections, which, according to observers, were marred by irregularities. His opponents denounced the elections as having been rigged.

A coalition government was formed in August 2019, bringing together President Tshisekedi’s Direction for Change party (CACH) and the Common Front for Congo (FCC) of the long-time President Joseph Kabila, the two parties sharing 23 and 42 members of the executive respectively.

Cardinal Ambongo’s June 30 criticism of DRC’s coalition government echo those of other Catholic Church leaders three months ago.

In March, Bishops in DRC lamented over the coalition saying, “it is unacceptable that the country should be taken hostage by an agreement, which moreover, is occultic.”

In his June 30 message during Holy Mass, Cardinal Ambongo, a member of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, regretted the poor working relationship in President Tshisekedi-led administration saying, “Government action is completely paralyzed and the legitimate service to be rendered to the population is being sacrificed” as result of these divisions, adding that “the people have been abandoned.”

“As long as this coalition is there, there is nothing to expect from our Government,” the Church leader said and lamented, “This is unacceptable.”

Addressing the controversy surrounding the selection of members of the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), Cardinal Ambongo noted that “there are relentless efforts of the current parliamentary majority to get their hands on the CENI and the Magistracy.”

“These are practices that can never be tolerated,” the Congolese Cardinal said and called on “Christians of the Catholic and Protestant churches to put themselves in good order to block any plans by the government to choose the leaders of the CENI.”

He went on to say, “The coming days will be difficult. I would like to ask the people to be ready. When the time comes, when they insist on passing these laws and these people at the head of CENI, they will have to find us on their path.”

“Therefore, on the occasion of the celebration of the independence of our country, I launch this appeal to all our people, to the Civil Society, to the Catholic Church, which is already in the marching order, to the Protestant Church to rise up, to straighten the front to block these desires which have a sole objective to protect the partisan interests of those who do not want a just system,” Cardinal Ambongo said.

ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.

Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa
[email protected]