Tuesday, 13 May 2003

Kinshasa (Fides Service) – “At the very moment when the Democratic Republic of Congo strives to restore national unity, war is intensified” Father Francesco, Xaverian mission in Congo, tells Fides Service. The Italian missionary who has years of experience in Congo was referring to the latest episodes of violence in this African country. “Fighting between Hema and Lendu tribes in Ituri region is only the latest link in a chain of violence which has been raging over most of eastern Congo. These events are not accidental, they are part of a plan to gain control of this part of Congo, particularly the resources.”
In April this year at Sun City (South Africa) the Congolese government and the rebels reached a power sharing agreement to put an end to civil war which has taken more than 3 million lives. The agreement stipulated that elections must be held in the next two years. In the meantime the country will have a transition government with the participation of all the political parties and rebel movements. The transition government will be led by President Joseph Kabila assisted by four vice-presidents representing guerrilla groups and opposition parties. The agreement includes also a new Constitution.
“Now that Congo is working to restore peace there are certain forces which are doing their best to make war continue” says Father Francesco “what happened two days ago in Bunia was a significant example. At the city airport an aircraft carrying a delegation of 70 people from Kinshasa was about to land. The delegation was composed of President Kabila’s men and men of the Opposition who were coming to the city on behalf of national unity to restore state administration, absent since 1998, the beginning of the war. Militia of the Group for Congo Democratic RCD-Goma, which did not adhere to the Sun City agreement and still controls Bukavu, prevented the aircraft from landing by placing heavy vehicles on the runway. RCD soldiers fired on crowds waiting to welcome at last the representatives of their legitimate government”.
In Bukavu, the vicar general of the diocese Mons. Xavier Maroy Rusengo in a message to the diocese denounced the climate of violence which is disrupting the city and surrounding area. Referring to the fighting in April, Mons. Rusengo says: “The fighting with heavy weapons killed eleven people and wounded many more; it paralysed the city of Bukavu for two days and led to sacking of the people’s goods and raping of girls and women”.
Mons Rusengo asks the international community “to take concrete measures to suppress all desires to resume hostilities in our province and in our country”. The vicar of Bukavu encourages the diocese to offer concrete solidarity to the people of localities affected by the violence: “Let us offer them clothes, food, funds for schooling so that the present school year may be concluded normally”. (Fides Service 13/5/2003 EM lines 41 Words: 507)