Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) – To ring the bells to ask for the application of the New Year's Eve Agreements. This is the initiative taken by the association of deans of the parish priests of the Archdiocese of Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, on the upcoming anniversary of the agreement signed on 31 December 2016. The agreements reached with the mediation of the Congolese Bishops, are aimed at overcoming the political-institutional stalemate after the presidential elections were not held despite the deadline of the second and last term of President Joseph Kabila, on December 20, 2016.
The New Year's Agreements called for the creation of a national unity government to prepare the presidential elections by 2017. In the meantime Kabila remained interim President. The executive born in May 2017 did not include an important part of the opposition, while on November 5th the National Independent Electoral Commission announced that the presidential, legislative, provincial and local elections will be held on December 23rd 2018 (see Fides 06/11/2018). This allows Kabila to remain in power for at least another year.
The initiative of the parish priests wants to respond to the request of the Congolese Bishops, who at the end of November had launched an appeal to respect the New Year's Eve Agreements. The Bishops, taking note of the new election date, said they were "deeply disappointed to find themselves in the same context of tensions as the end of 2016 and had warned that "the people will not tolerate this in 2018"(see Fides 28/11/2017). The Congolese Episcopal Conference (CENCO) reiterated the need to apply the agreements and called for the holding of credible and transparent elections in a reasonable time.
A message sent to the parishes recommends a prayer for the nation every day starting from December 7, at the end of the morning Mass, preceded by a reading of the message of CENCO published in November. It is also recommended, as from December 14, to ring the bells every Thursday at 9pm for 15 minutes.
The Lay Coordination Committee has once again given President Kabila an ultimatum, urging him to publicly declare that he will not run as candidate and to apply the New Year's Eve agreements. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 12/12/2017)