DRC: Church Seek International Help to Solve Crisis

KINSHASA JANUARY 23, 2018 (CISA) – The Episcopal Conference of the Democratic Republic of Congo (CENCO) is calling for international intervention to solve the country’s political problem following deadly protests.

“Within the context of the on-going crisis in our country, the bishops of the CENCO  are convinced that within the framework of international cooperation, brothers, friends and neighbors of the DRC can bring in something that can satisfy the aspirations of the Congolese people. That is why we thought we should meet President Denis Sassou Nguesso,” Fr Donatien Nsholé Babula, the Secretary General and spokesperson for the conference said in a statement.

The bishops met with Sassou Nguesso, in an effort to get him to try and enforce the December 31, 2016 accord to ensure a transfer of power in the DRC.

Sassou Nguesso is President of the International Conference of the Great Lakes, which includes both of the Congos, as well as several other nations in the region.

The Catholic bishops helped broker the deal between President Joseph Kabila’s regime and the opposition. The initiative required the government to agree to a number of opposition demands, including: Freeing all political prisoners; returning seized media operations; and ending the harassment of opposition politicians.

The appeal came after Catholic churches and activists had called for peaceful demonstrations on January 21 in Kinshasa, Goma, Lubumbashi and other cities.

The protests against President Kabila turned violent as police tried to disperse the demonstrators leading to at least six deaths.

The protest organized by the Lay Coordination Committee of the DRC was the latest in a series since President Kabila refused to step down at the end of his mandate in December 2016.

The organizers however, said they will not surrender and that they will organise other demonstrations.

“We now have the distinct impression that those in power do not want to leave. Demonstrations therefore remain the only form of protest, albeit weak, to put pressure and hope that something changes within the presidential regime.”