CONGO: Bishops Urge UN Peacekeepers to Actively Protect Citizens

KINSHASHA MARCH 3, 2017 (CISA) – Congolese Catholic Bishops’ Conference (CENCO) has urged the United Nations peacekeepers in the country to protect the local communities.

In a pastoral letter presented at a news conference in Kinshasa on February 27, the Bishops said a security vacuum would lead to more militias that would cause further instability.

“Where the forces of order are inactive or absent, groups of individuals are forming militias or community self-defence groups, made up largely of minors and children who engender further violence,” the bishops said.

The bishops blamed insecurity on variety of factors including lack of administration on the part of government, CNS reported.

“While seeking to re-establish public order, interventions by the national police and army are, unfortunately, in some cases, unrestrained and disproportionate,” they said.

The bishops also called on President Joseph Kabila to make greater efforts to ensure Congo’s security and territorial integrity and called on his backers to stop “unrealistic intransigence.”

The bishops also asked the citizens to be patience on the church-brokered peace accord and warned that manipulation is fuelling threats against the Church.

“The long wait for a peaceful democratic alternative is expressing itself in impatience and tension even toward our bishops’ conference, which is only trying to mediate. Recurrent threats and violence are being fuelled by manipulation shamefully directed against the Catholic Church,” the bishops said.

The bishops’ conference launched a mediation bid when opposition leaders accused Kabila of seeking to retain power after his second and final term expired December 20, 2016.

Under a December 31, 2016 peace accord negotiated by the bishops, the president will remain in office pending elections by the end of 2017, alongside a government headed by an opposition-nominated prime minister.


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