AFRICA - February 16 important date for Christians and democracy in the DRC and Uganda

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Rome (Agenzia Fides) - February 16 is an important day for Christians in Africa. On 16 February 1977, Anglican Archbishop Janani Luwum was assissinated by the military of dictator Idi Amin, his body placed in mangled car wreck in a staged accident. Reports suggest Amin ordered the cleric’s death. On February 16, 1992 in the then Zaire, today's Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Catholic Church organized the "peaceful march of Christians" to force another dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko, to bring together the Sovereign National Conference that was to organize free and independent elections. The police intervened, killing about twenty protesters. But Mobutu had to yield to domestic and international pressure, and on August 14 1992 opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi (who died recently see Fides 02/02/2017) became the Prime Minister of a transitional government that had to lead the country to elections.
In Uganda the memory of the Anglican Archbishop’s sacrifice assumed an ecumenical meaning since St. John Paul II, during his visit to the country in 1982, paid tribute to the Martyrs' chapel in the Anglican Cathedral in Canterbury. The chapel was created to remember Archbishop Luwum.
Today’s DRC hopes that the memory of popular mobilization in favor of democracy spurs politicians to overcome the impasse on the implementation of the Agreement of San Silvestro (see Fides 03/01/2017) to lead the Country to new elections. The road to democracy is difficult but not impossible, although marked by the blood of many. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 16/02/2017)