Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) - President Joseph Kabila must take the formal commitment not to be a candidate in the presidential election on December 23, 2018, ask the Bishops of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the message published at the end of their Extraordinary Assembly dedicated to the serious political crisis in the Country.
"It is essential, on the grounds of (demonstrating) sincere political will, to reassure the Congolese people and international partners by providing guarantees that elections will effectively be held", says the message sent to Agenzia Fides.
"Without judging his intentions", Bishops urge President Kabila "to reassure public opinion that he will not be a candidate to his own succession". Elections had to be held in December 2016 when Kabila's second and last mandate expired. The postponement of the elections had been interpreted by the opposition as part of a move by the outgoing President to modify the Constitution in order to allow him to seek a third term.
The Bishops note that "today we find ourselves in a similar situation to last year" which had ended with the San Silvestro Agreement which was reached after weeks of hard negotiations. The Agreement, signed on December 31, 2016, provided for the formation of a national union government that would lead the DRC to general elections by 2017. President Joseph Kabila however, created a government with only one part of the opposition (see Fides 10/5/2017), while the Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) had initially stated that presidential elections could only be held in the spring of 2019 (see Fides 28/10/2017), and then announced that they will be held on December 23, 2018 (see Fides 6/11/2017).
The Bishops say they "are deeply disappointed". "People will not tolerate the fact that this can happen in 2018", they conclude. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 28/11/2017)