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Bishops in DR Congo Urge Integrity in New Political Alliance Government Appointments

Archbishop Marcel Utembi Tapa, president of the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO).

Catholic Bishops in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) want integrity to be prioritized in government appointments following the termination of the mandate of the coalition that had been formed between the party of the President and that of his predecessor.

DRC’s President Felix Tshisekedi announced the termination of the mandate of the coalition formed between his Cap for Change (Cach) party and that of Joseph Kabila, the Common Front for the Congo (FCC), saying the alliance did "not allow the implementation of the programme that brought me to the Presidency." 

In a statement released Monday, March 1, members of the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) urge the country’s leadership to appoint only persons with integrity, having people’s interest at heart.

“Only men and women who have shown good ethics in their past and who have experience in the required field, concerned about the well-being of the population, deserve to be selected to manage State institutions and public enterprises,” Catholic Bishops in the Central African nation say.

They add in reference to the appointing authorities, “We invite them to set to work in accordance with the legal provisions, giving priority to the well-being of the population and national cohesion.”

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Making reference to the new alliance, Sacred Union of the Nation that has incorporated some members of the former coalition, CENCO members say that “it is not enough to simply change political camps (clothing); one must also break with anti-values and commit oneself to work.”

“The massive adhesion to the Sacred Union of the Nation should not be motivated only by political positioning,” the members of CENCO caution.

The Catholic Bishops further caution against overlooking integrity in the appointments saying "people will be frustrated to see those who have participated in looting, insecurity, human rights violations, and who show no remorse and conversion returning to power.”

In October 2020, President Tshisekedi acknowledged that two years after his ascension to power, he had not achieved his task due to the persistent divisions within the then ruling coalition, FCC-Cach. 

The President began consultations with political and other stakeholders to find a way out of the political stalemate that had halted the functioning of some State institutions. 

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In their 9 November 2020 statement, CENCO members lauded the Congolese President for engaging different stakeholders and reminded the Head of State that the "well-being of the people must be over all other political considerations."

The Bishops also called for electoral reforms in the Central African nation. 

In their March 1 statement, the Catholic Bishops in DRC reiterate their calls for electoral reforms saying it "should be among the priorities of the new government." 

They also address insecurity which they say remains "deleterious and aggravated by the recurrent presence of armed groups" especially in the Eastern part of the country. 

The Bishops also express concerns about the repression of human rights, insecurity and the obstruction of freedom of expression and peaceful demonstration in the country. 

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They say that the concern for justice that manifested itself during President Tshisekedi's 100 days in office "does not seem to continue in the same vein." 

"It has faded and appears selective," the Bishops say, adding that the “fight against corruption cannot be successful if impunity persists. " 

In the statement released after the February 22 to 25 meeting of CENCO’s Standing Committee, the Bishops highlight the February 22 ambush in Ituri, Eastern DRC, that left Italy’s Ambassador to the country – Luka Attanasio – his bodyguard and driver dead as proof of insecurity in the country. 

As a way forward, CENCO members call on the people of God in DRC to "ensure that their fundamental rights are defended at all costs" and not act "as accomplices to the perpetrators of violence." 

President Tshisekedi should ensure the formation of an effective government and take into consideration the ethical profile of members of his new government and the managers of public institutions, the Bishop reiterate.

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They also call on the Head of State to "take greater care to guarantee national cohesion and security" in the Central African nation.  

The Bishops further call on the International Community to "support Congolese organizations in their fight for the respect of human rights through civic and electoral education of the population."

They also urge the International Community to help the country's institutions to "bring about reforms in favor of the Congolese population in order to prepare adequately for the 2023 elections.”

The Catholic Church leaders invite the people of God in DRC “not to fall into discouragement and fatalism in the face of the multiple challenges of our country, but to turn to the Lord who in times of tribulation comes to our aid.”

“May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of the Congo, intercede for us. May God take us in grace and bless our country,” CENCO members implore in their March 1 statement.