DRC: Bishops Call for Dialogue Ahead of Elections

KINSHASA, JUNE 28, 2016 (CISA) – The National Conference of Bishops (CENCO), has called for immediate national dialogue ahead of the forthcoming general elections to avert possibilities of violence.

“A political dialogue is now the only way to avoid chaos, political leaders should make the needed concessions for a sincere national dialogue to take place,” Fr Abbot Leonard Santedi Kinkupu, Secretary General of the National Episcopal Conference of Congo, told reporters June 27 in the capital, Kinshasa.

He said that the dialogues will ensure that the national elections that is to take place before the year “sees President Joseph Kabila step down when his second term ends.”

Under the 2006 constitution, Congolese President is directly elected to a five-year term renewable only once by universal suffrage and the first President to have been elected under these provisions is Joseph Kabila, in the 2006 elections who should step down on December 20, although the Constitutional Court in May ruled that he can remain in office until a new president is elected.

The nation is scheduled to hold elections in November, but the polls may be delayed because preparations aren’t on schedule, Bloomeberg News reported.

President Kabila last year called for a national dialogue on the organization of the polls, but opposition parties have largely refused to participate, accusing the president of using the talks to delay the vote.

“It is imperative that we respect the fundamentals of our constitution concerning the number and length of presidential terms,” said Fr Santedi.

The church, which is a powerful force in the central African nation where more than 40 percent of the population is Catholic, has repeatedly called on Kabila to leave office at the end of his second term.

“We cannot allow technical constraints to be used as political excuses,” Fr Santedi said in a separate interview, referring to the government’s argument that financial and organizational issues will necessitate a long delay.

He added, “If a delay of two or three months is agreed by political consensus, then that can be acceptable because we can say that it respects the spirit of the constitution,”

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