AFRICA/DR CONGO - The Bishops: "We all demand respect for the New Year's Eve Agreement"

Monday, 26 June 2017 bishops   politics   armed groups  

Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) - "The New Year's Eve Agreement is the only roadmap based on the Constitution, which we must demand respect and its application by the signatories", the Bishops of the Democratic Republic of Congo say in the message published at the end of their Plenary Assembly.
"Politicians – denounces the document sent to Agenzia Fides - multiply initiatives to empty the content of the Agreement, thus preventing the free, democratic and peaceful elections".
The agreement signed on December 31, 2016, with the mediation of Bishops, provides for the formation of a national unity government that will lead the DRC to general elections by 2017. President Joseph Kabila has, however, created a government with only one part of the opposition (see Fides 10/5/2017).
Political impasse is having disastrous consequences on the national economy, the Bishops denounce: the collapse of the national currency and the rate of growth, unemployment and loss of household purchasing power. Young unemployed people go to swell the ranks of the increasingly numerous armed groups that plunge vast areas of the Country into chaos and insecurity. In Gran Kasai, the population and the Church were severely affected by military clashes (see Fides 20/6/2017). According to the Bishops, 60,000 Congolese were forced to flee to Angola to escape the violence in Gran Kasai.
The Bishops denounce the presence of foreign armed groups in the east of the Country, "rebels of the LRA, ADF NALU (both of Ugandan origin, ndr.), Sudanese fighters and others".
There is the presence of foreign "herdsmen" in various provinces and the Bishops are wondering whether "this phenomenon is not part of a Balkanization Plan of the DRC".
Even the recent mass escape of bandits and guerrillas from the prisons of Kinshasa, Kasangulu, Kalemie and Beni, "remains a big question mark for us", the Bishops say.
We do not give way to fear and fatalism and we take the situation in our hands with peaceful methods" invite the Bishops, proposing first of all to demand the full application of the New Year’s Eve Agreements.
On the occasion of the anniversary of national independence, on June 30, the Episcopal Conference invites congolese parishes and people of goodwill to a day of fasting and prayer for the nation, launching also a humanitarian assistance initiative for peoples of areas of war. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 26/6/2017)