DRC: Bishops Appeals for Peace amid Fears of Political Violence

KINSHASA SEPTEMBER 13, 2016(CISA)-The Episcopal Conference of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has (DRC) have appealed for peace and democracy, amid fears that political violence could escalate with the postponement of elections.

“Blocking the electoral process creates a worrying situation which risks plunging the country into chaos,” Fr Léonard Santedi, Secretary General of the Catholic Bishops Conference in the DRC said in a statement.

“The country is facing a deteriorating socio-economic and security situation, particularly in areas like eastern DRC. At this important moment, we urge political leaders to take action to ensure that violence and bloodshed are averted,” said Fr Santedi.

Elections are due in November 2016, and opposition is pushing for this timeframe; however, there are claims that the incumbent President Joseph Kabila is attempting to change the constitution to allow him to stand for a third term, which is likely to delay the elections.

“We call on the international community to support the DRC in finding a lasting solution to the political situation, to back democratic electoral process, and support investigations into the recent massacres of communities in Beni and in the North Kivu region.”

“It is imperative that we respect the constitution, particularly regarding the number and duration of mandates of the president of the Republic” added Father Santedi.

Fergus Conmee, Head of Africa Programmes at Catholic aid agency CAFOD, said: “The situation in the DRC is extremely precarious and the risk of political violence is extremely high. We support the Bishops’ urgent call for peace and democracy at this time.”

The electoral process in the DRC has been delayed and presidential and legislative elections planned for November 2016 are yet to be confirmed.

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