Addressing journalists at a press conference October 4, the spokesperson of the Forum of Religious Denominations in DRC, Fr. Donatien Nshole, said some religious leaders have given in to “political pressure.”
“The candidacy of Kadima was accompanied by threats and intimidation. This is palpable proof. You will remember that we all signed a joint statement on July 23, denouncing threats against the work we were doing and it was directed towards Kadima,” Fr. Nshole told journalists in Kinshasa.
Strangely enough, the Catholic Priest further said, “the people who were threatened, who could not even spend the night at home, changed their minds overnight, that is, they gave in to the pressure.”
There is well established proof of how Kadima has bribed some religious leaders for him to be declared CENI President, Fr. Nshole went on to say, adding that some religious leaders have been offered US$100,000.00 and luxurious cars to change their position.
“The Catholic Church does not object to the technical abilities of Kadima but in addition to the technical criteria, there are established ethical criteria which the religious must take into account,” the Catholic Priest further said.
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Meanwhile, the Holy See has expressed concern about attacks against the Church and its institutions in the DRC.
Addressing participants in the 48th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council Tuesday, October 5, the Chargé d’Affaires at the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations described the attacks against the Catholic Church in DRC as “serious”.
“The Holy See is particularly concerned about the attacks against the Catholic Church and ecclesiastical institutions that have taken place throughout the country during the process of appointing the president of CENI,” Msgr. John Putzer said.
These attacks constitute, Msgr. Putzer said, “a serious attack on the freedom of religion and expression, but also a violation of democracy".
He added, “The Holy See notes that it is essential that this process be conducted in a transparent, democratic, and independent manner, so that an effective consensus can be reached among the eight denominations that make up the platform of religious denominations responsible for the appointment of the CENI president.”
Msgr. Putzar went on to appeal for “coordinated and constant efforts” at all levels to “effectively protect the rights and dignity of the Congolese people.”
The Vatican Diplomat also called on all stakeholders involved in organizing elections to ensure that “the 2023 electoral process takes place in a free, transparent, inclusive and democratic manner, on the basis of an effective consensus.”
He strongly condemned “all acts of violence, especially those involving the loss of human life, and all forms of sexual violence that are perpetrated on Congolese territory.”
The consequences of this “political instability and insecurity”, Msgr. Putzar said, are “devastating for the protection of human rights in the country.”
Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.