By Charles Igwe
In anticipation of the general elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in six months’ time, the bishops of the country are calling on Congolese citizens to actively participate in the electoral process by voting for competent and morally upright candidates. The bishops emphasize the need for transparency and vigilance to ensure credible and free elections.
During their 60th plenary assembly in Lubumbashi, the capital of the Southern province of Haut-Katanga, the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) released a statement focusing on the current political situation in the DRC. They highlighted the recurring political crises that have plagued the country since its independence in 1960, with disputes over the legitimacy of institutions and leadership.
CENCO underlines the importance of holding “free, inclusive, transparent, and peaceful elections” as crucial to the stability and well-being of the Congolese people. They express concern over the growing insecurity in various parts of the country, particularly in the Eastern provinces. Armed militias, including the resurging M23 group supported by neighboring Rwanda, continue to pose a significant threat to the lives and livelihoods of millions of Congolese.
The bishops also draw attention to the emerging Mobondo militia, responsible for spreading terror in Western DRC. Additionally, they express unease about the behavior of the Special Brigade of the ruling party’s Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), which, at times, collaborates with the police to target political opponents and peaceful citizens critical of the current governance.
CENCO members emphasize their concerns regarding security challenges and the proliferation of armed groups. They regret that their recommendations on security and national cohesion have not been heeded, underscoring the urgent need to address these issues.
As the DRC approaches the elections, the Congolese Bishops stress the significance of transparent and fair electoral processes while addressing the security challenges that threaten the well-being and democratic progress of the country.