DRC: Bishops Suspend Participation in National Dialogue as Violence Rocks Kinshasa

KINSHASA, SEPTEMBER 23 2016(CISA) – Catholic Bishops in the Democratic Republic of Congo have temporarily suspended their participation in the on-going national dialogue, in order to mourn the more than 50 people killed during the Kinshasa clashes on September 20.

“Out of respect for our innocent brothers and sisters, and in solidarity with struggling families and the entire Congolese people, CENCO has wisely considered to suspend its participation in the national dialogue in mourning and to search for a broad consensus,” Archbishop Marcel Utembi, President of the Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) told Vatican Radio’s French African Programme.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Thursday, condemned this week’s fatal shooting of anti-government protesters in DRC and urged the government to seek dialogue with the opposition.

He said the death toll from clashes between protesters and security forces in Kinshasa on Monday had risen to at least 50 contrasting the government’s said toll of 32.

“The writing is on the wall and the authorities need to pull back from their extremely confrontational position and build bridges with the opposition,” Zeid said in a statement.

According to Fides news agency, the Catholic Church has further threatened to withdraw from the national dialogue if the forum is manipulated to give Joseph Kabila an opportunity to stand for re-election.

The dialogue on the signing of a preliminary political agreement on the General Elections date and on the current president’s candidacy in the elections was suspended on Sept 21 for 48 hours due to the violence that rocked capital Kinshasa.

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