Democratic Republic of the Congo: Catholic Bishops urge citizens to prevent Kabila’s third term bid

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is still facing several challenges to implementing stable and democratic governance. The Comboni Missionaries’ presence in the country and the wider region seeks to contribute to long-term stability and cohesion. In light of recent political volatility, the Church has felt compelled to comment.

The Catholic Bishops of the Democratic Republic of the Congo have called on citizens to defy any attempts by President Joseph Kabila to hold on to power beyond the end of his term next year.

In a recent statement, the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) said: “We ask the Congolese people to prove their vigilance in the spirit of article 64 (of the constitution).” The statement was signed by the Chairman of CENCO, Cardinal Laurent Mosengwo Pasinya.

Article 64 of the Congolese constitution stipulates that: “All Congolese have the duty to thwart any individual or group of individuals that takes power by force or exercises it in violation of the provisions of the present constitution”.

Kabila, who became president in 2001 and won disputed elections in 2006 and 2011, is barred by the constitution from standing for a third term.

While President Kabila’s spokesman said that he intends to respect the constitution, some of his allies have suggested delaying the presidential election by up to four years in order to clean up voter rolls.

In reaction to these suggestions, the Church earlier this month declared its support for a national dialogue about the upcoming elections – as long as the election is not delayed.

The government has said that Kabila will convene the dialogue “imminently”. Most opposition parties have said they will not participate, suspecting the dialogue to be part of a strategy to delay the election.