The National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) has announced that due to the violent events of Monday September 19, it has suspended its participation in the national dialogue called by President Joseph Kabila.
The influential Catholic Church said in a statement on 20 September 2016 that it had opted out of the dialogue in order to “mourn” after the deadly events of the past two days in the country. The Church has yet to state when they will return to the dialogue.
CENCO’s statement said the church had arrived at the decision out of respect for ‘‘our brothers and sisters who paid to respect for the Constitution,” adding that their next move was to strive for broader inclusiveness for the dialogue.
The church underscored that whichever consensus reached by the dialogue, President Kabila should not be eligible to run in the next elections, whenever they are due to be held.
In early September, the clergy had considered leaving the dialogue if it turned into negotiations for a “disguised mandate” in favour of President Kabila.
Abbot Donatien Shole, CENCO’s delegate at the dialogue, told AFP at the time any Kabila-inspired agenda at the dialogue will end their participation in the process.
“The CENCO cannot continue to participate in this dialogue if the fulfilment of these basic requirements is no longer assured, if they ever begin to negotiate what may look like a disguised mandate, we leave the dialogue,” he stated.
Reactions have increased across the world since the start of violence that left 17 dead according to authorities. The opposition parties quote that 50 lives were lost and 37 according to a latest report given by Human Rights Watch.
The United States and the European Union have threatened sanctions against Congolese authorities in the wake of renewed violence and repression of civilians, while Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general on Monday demanded the opposition and the government exercise more restraint for the safety of civilians.