AFRICA/DR CONGO - Controversy regarding the “national” prayer called by the government; the local Catholic Church will not take part

Saturday, 5 March 2016 politics   prayer  

Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides)- After asking the Catholic Church in the Democratic Republic of Congo to cancel the demonstration planned for 16 February (see Fides 16/2/2016), the majority which supports President Joseph Kabila has organized a “national prayer” for peace in the country to be held this evening, 5 March, at the Martyrs Sports Stadium in the capital Kinshasa.
The local Catholic Church will not take part in this evening’s “national prayer”. Opposition parties under the banner of “G7” have voiced perplexity regarding the initiative of the government which in recent months for “security reasons” has prohibited public demonstrations including one organized by the local Catholic Church for 16 February this year to commemorate the bloody repression of a “March of Christians” organised by the local Catholic Church on 16 February 1992 to ask for more democracy in the then Zaire of Mobutu Sese Seko. The government rejected an appeal launched by Moïse Katumbi, governor of Katanga and a candidate in the next presidential elections, for a daily prayer for peace in DRC.
The Opposition therefore sees in the government’s initiative to co-opt the different Churches in the country in the attempt to postpone presidential elections and prolong the mandate of President Kabila after its expiry. There is yet no date for presidential and political elections (see Fides 2/3/2016), while tension in the country remains high due to fear that the President intends to change the Constitution to obtain a third mandate. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 5/3/2016)