DR Congo: CAFOD fears violence could erupt after government crackdown on peaceful demonstrations


By: Nana Anto-Awuakye

Security forces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) have used excessive force, including teargas and live ammunition, against peaceful protesters at Catholic churches in the capital, Kinshasa, last weekend, where up to five people were killed.

The Catholic Church leadership are saying they're going to continue calling for the respect of the agreement reached on New Year's Eve 2016 for a transitional road map, leading to elections. Elections have been repeatedly delayed since President Kabila's constitutionally mandated two-term limit expired in December 2016, and are currently scheduled for the end of this year.

The current stalemate over elections, coupled with the economic downturn has angered people, who have gone on demonstrations across the country. The Catholic Church has asked their faithful to come out in peaceful protests; and they have been joined by many other Christian denominations, and Muslims.

CAFOD's Country representative in DR Congo, Bernard Kateta Balibuno said: "All the efforts of the Catholic Church have put them in danger, but despite this, they have maintained their pastoral message of calling for fair and justice elections in 2018, and standing by the peaceful protests of the people.

"The Church played a crucial role as mediator in negotiations that led to a December 31, 2016 agreement that DR Congo President Joseph Kabila will step down following elections to be held. The agreement brought the country back from the brink of renewed civil war.

"However, the honouring of this agreement has not prevailed; and today we fear that a powder keg, greater than at any other time in DR Congo, is about to ignite a resurgence of fear, anger, and insecurity, as the people face an uncertain 2018. The Church is doing all that it can, but if the international community doesn't react quickly, it will be too late."


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