AFRICA/DR CONGO - "We await clarification on the invasion of the Archbishopric by the Republican Guard"

Monday, 27 February 2023 bishops   military  

Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) - "We demand clarifications from the military hierarchy that raided the archbishopric and cathedral", says a statement from the Archdiocese of Lubumbashi where on the morning of Friday February 24, a team of soldiers from the Republican Guard forcefully entered the enclosure of the archbishopric and the cathedral.
"This Friday, a convoy of heavily armed military vehicles, claiming to be part of the Republican Guard, parked in front of the Lubumbashi Archdiocese. Nine aggressive men tried to enter the archdiocese. After meeting firm resistance from the security team at the entrance of the episcopal residence, they quickly took to the gatehouse and, insistently demanded access to the office of Monsignor the Archbishop who was quietly at work", reads the statement from the archdiocese of Lubumbashi (in southeastern Democratic Republic of Congo).
The military team was commanded by a colonel who spoke Swahili, escorted by six men in uniform, two white men who spoke only in English and a Congolese interpreter assigned to the Presidency of the Republic.
"These unwelcome visitors," the note continued, "claimed to be part of the advanced team of the President of the Republic. They specified that they had the task of making security arrangements in view of a religious event to be held at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Lubumbashi during a planned stay of the Head of State in Upper Katanga. Of this curious event, neither the Archbishop, nor the parish priest of the cathedral, nor the competent services of the Province or of the city have the slightest idea", specifies the Archdiocese which puts forward the hypothesis of an attempted kidnapping of Archbishop Fulgence Muteba Mugalu or at least "unjustified intimidation".
The commander of the Republican Guard in Upper Katanga declared that the action carried out by his men "was not a hostile activity against the Archbishop but an act of benevolent solicitation of the ecclesiastical authorities to adopt protective measures in the event of visits of high personalities to the cathedral".
The Republican Guard (GR) is the unit responsible for the protection of the institutions - in general - and of the President of the Republic in particular, and is distinct from the rest of the Congolese armed forces (FARDC). It is made up of about 12,000 men, trained by Egyptian and Israeli instructors. In case of emergency, a GR can be employed in fights against guerrillas or invading armies or in operations to maintain or restore public order. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 27/2/2023)