Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) - "A message of peace and hope to the Congolese people" was addressed by the Bishops of the African country at the end of the plenary Assembly of the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO), which met from June 23 to 27 in Kinshasa. Recalling the 54th anniversary of the independence of the Country, the Bishops recall the 2013-2016 electoral process that is ongoing, and that gives them "an opportunity to remind everyone of the sacred duty to protect the nation and preserve the peace gained through thousands of sacrifices".
The message, sent to Fides Agency, is titled "For a peaceful electoral process and bearer of a better future", and explains the meaning of the invitation to "protect the Nation": to work to build a more beautiful Congo than before; restore peace in the country; "to defend and promote the rights, dignity and well-being of all the Congolese people"; enhance the natural resources and not alienate them for selfishness or for power; "Consolidate democracy through the holding of free, credible and transparent elections"; "Abide by the Basic Law which constitutes the hard core of the nation".
The Bishops therefore encourage the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to "safeguard its independence and to work in impartiality, transparency and respect for the prerogatives assigned to it by law".
"As we have said in the statement at the end of our Standing Committee in February 2014 - we support the election of provincial deputies, mayors and municipal representatives by means of direct ballot" (see Fides 04/03/2014 ). The Episcopal Conference reaffirms its position, as expressed in the Memorandum sent to the Head of State, on the opportunity of not amending the Constitution, in particular Articles like Article 220: "The republican form of the state, the principle of universal suffrage, representative form of government, the number and term of office of the President of the Republic, the independence of the judiciary, political and union pluralism, cannot be subject to any constitutional amendment". The Bishops say they are also contrary "to any kind of initiative which, without directly modifying Article 220 would tend to empty it of its essential content", and hope that politicians and all the Congolese people understand the importance of this constitutional provision, which is vital to ensure the stability of the country.
The document concludes with a series of recommendations regarding the various sectors of society. "Reaffirming our determination to give our contribution to protect the nation and work to the integral well-being of the Congolese population, we accompany the electoral process through civic and electoral education. We will organize for this purpose, moments of prayer in every diocese in the Country", announced the Bishops, who also intend "to safeguard the freedom of the Church", hoping that "the celebration of the 54th anniversary of independence of our country brings in everyone a patriotic jolt and concrete commitment".(SL) (Agenzia Fides 02/07/2014)