“It is unacceptable that the country should be taken hostage”: DR Congo Bishops

Members of the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Conference of the Democratic Republic of Congo (CENCO)
Credit: CENCO

Bishops in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have accused the country’s coalition government of taking the nation “hostage” by selfishly minding their political positions instead of serving the Congolese people and termed the trend “unacceptable”. 

“Many of the problems facing the country remain without adequate solutions because of the ongoing crisis in the Coalition. It is unacceptable that the country should be taken hostage by an agreement which, moreover, is occultic,” reads in part a statement from the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Conference of the Democratic Republic of Congo (CENCO).

“The allies seem more concerned about their political positions than the service to be rendered to the People who continue to languish in poverty,” the Prelates bemoaned in the statement read by the Secretary General of CENCO Monday, March 2. 

They lamented that “worrying tension is brewing within the ruling coalition, affecting governance and undermining the functioning of the state apparatus.” 

President Felix Tshisekedi took office in January 2019 after winning an election, which observers said was marred by irregularities and opponents denounced as rigged.

Seven months after his inauguration, President Tshisekedi formed a coalition government that included a majority of members from the previously troubled regime of former President Joseph Kabila.

The coalition government put a brake on Tshisekedi's declared ambitions of reforming a country marked by corruption and rights abuses, the East African reported.

In their collective statement, the Bishops in DRC have expressed concerns over corruption in the government saying, "we are witnessing the unjustifiable and scandalous enrichment of a handful of political actors at the expense of the vast majority of the population.”

“To make matters worse, these misappropriations are the work of the very people who are called upon to be guarantors of the common good,” the Bishops said and added, “The measures announced to combat these evils remain ineffective.”

CENCO members also decry the reluctance of the government to organize local elections, one year after taking over.

“In spite of the petition initiated by CENCO and the Church of Christ in Congo (ECC), which has collected more than two million signatures, the local elections, which should guarantee the proximity and accountability of the grassroots governments, seem to be postponed and the reforms desired before these elections have not yet begun,” the Church leaders noted in their statement. 

Against this backdrop, the Bishops have proposed some measures to their country’s President, the international community, the Members of Parliament (MPs) and the people of God in DRC.

“Continue efforts of restoring peace in the insecure areas,” the Prelates urged the Head of State and further asked him to “ensure that investigations initiated into the misappropriation of public funds are not a sham, but lead to tangible results in the interest of the country.”

The Church leaders also want their country’s President to enhance the fight against corruption and to stop the politicizing of the judiciary, public administration and the management of public enterprises.

To the MPs, the Bishops implored them to be sensitive to the pain and suffering of the Congolese.

The Congolese Prelates also ask the MPs to “respect the regulatory provisions of the organization of the opposition at the level of the National Assembly and to be attentive to the country's living forces in order to initiate the consensual reforms necessary for the consolidation of democracy.”

Addressing members of the international community, the Bishops said, “Establish just relations in a frank and sincere partnership, and help the DR Congo to find lasting solutions to the multifaceted crises in which it finds itself.”

Finally, the Congolese people were told to “stand firm and not to lose hope, for hope never fails.”

“Remain vigilant in exercising citizen control of the institutions,” the Bishops told the people adding that they should “Demand local elections and related reforms.”

“May the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace and Our Lady of the Congo, support our efforts of conversion. May it consolidate every initiative of reconciliation, justice and peace in our country,” concludes the statement.

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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.

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