DRC: Bishops-led Peace Talks Resume

KINSHASA MARCH 17, 2017 (CISA) – Peace talks aimed at establishing a government of national unity  that would lead up to presidential elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), resumed March 16.

The Bishops Conference of the Democratic Republic of Congo (CENCO) is mediating the talks between the government and the opposition.

According to Archbishop Fridolin Ambongo who is part of the mediation team, “one afternoon could be sufficient to complete what remains, except stakeholders are not willing.”

The talks were suspended after opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi who was to have headed a 28-member National Transition Council died on February 1.

They were to resume after his funeral, but because the funeral has now been delayed for more than a month, the DRC bishops’ conference announced the resumption of the talks.

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

Earlier this month however, the bishops issued a statement criticizing both the government and the opposition for failure to fulfill the terms of a peace agreement signed in December 31, 2016.

Under the accord negotiated by the bishops, President Joseph Kabila will remain in office pending elections by the end of 2017, alongside a government headed by an opposition-nominated prime minister.

The president must also comply with constitutional provisions barring him from a third term. If successful, the accord will ensure the first ever peaceful power transition in the country.

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