Advertisement

Cardinal in DRC against Bill Restricting Presidency to People with Both Congolese Parents

Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo of DRC's Kinshasa Archdiocese. Credit: Courtesy photo

The Archbishop of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Fridolin Cardinal Ambongo, has expressed his opposition to a bill that seeks to limit presidential candidates to those who have two Congolese parents.

The bill that is dubbed “congolité” (Congolity) was introduced at the DRC’s National Assembly for examination on July 8.

In his homily at the installation of the Archbishop DRC’s Lubumbashi Archdiocese July 10, Cardinal Ambongo said the proposed law is “likely to divide the Congolese people.”

“This is an opportunity, in the name of the Bishops of Congo and our Congolese people, to condemn the dangerous draft law on ‘Congolity’ which does not promote the much-desired national cohesion,” the Congolese Cardinal said.

He added, “This proposed law, instead of uniting the people of God in a single family, appears to be an instrument of exclusion and division.”

Advertisement

“I invite you all to remain extremely vigilant with regard to all these dangerous initiatives, which have as their only merit to create tension within the people,” Cardinal Ambongo cautioned.

An initiative of Noël Tshiani who is reportedly a close ally of President Felix Tshisekedi, the bill has received support from those who claim it aims to protect the Central African nation’s sovereignty and prevent outside interference.

Those opposed to the bill say it seeks to block Moise Katumbi, a millionaire businessman and former regional Governor whose father was Greek. He is expected to run in the 2023 elections.

“It is clearly a maneuver by those who want to hold onto power,” Olivier Kamitatu, Katumbi's spokesperson, has been quoted as telling Reuters.

“We are treading on the red line,” he further said, adding that the bill had to be scrapped or Katumbi's party would withdraw from the Sacred Union, a coalition formed by Tshisekedi last year.

More in Africa

Reuters has also quoted Tshisekedi's spokesman, Kasongo Mwema, as saying the President had “already excoriated these types of divisive subjects” and that he did not know whether the Congolese President would veto the bill.

In March, Catholic Bishops in DRC unveiled the roadmap for the 2023 General elections.

“The successful outcome of an electoral process depends on the more responsible participation of all the parties involved, each according to its prerogatives,” the Secretary General of the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO), Fr. Donatien Nshole, told journalists March 18.

Fr. Nshole added, “Faithful to their mission of solidarity with the aspirations of the people, the Bishops strongly reaffirm, through this roadmap, their commitment to prepare the Congolese people and to accompany their leaders during this period which precedes the holding of the 2023 elections.”

Released under the title, “Agenda 2023,” the Catholic Bishops’ roadmap that runs till February 2024 outlines a series of activities in the pre-electoral, electoral and post-electoral periods, including civic and electoral education campaign, the establishment of the electoral calendar, and election observation.

Advertisement

“We want to reassure the leaders and activists of political parties and groups that the Agenda 2023 of CENCO is not a roadmap to fight the political actors,” the Catholic Bishops in DRC clarified.

The roadmap, Fr. Nshole told journalists, is in fact a “planned program to mobilize the population around the electoral issue so that their vote brings to power people and programs that meet their aspirations.”

The roadmap of the members of CENCO was handed over to the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace (CEJP), represented by Fr. Clément Makiobo, for its implementation and follow up.