Church urges DRC politicians to uphold constitution

2015-11-13 20:06


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Kinshasa - The influential Roman Catholic church in Democratic Republic of Congo has urged politicians to show "absolute respect" for the constitution in talks ahead of elections due next year.

President Joseph Kabila is set to convene a "national dialogue" to help ensure "peaceful elections", but the opposition says this is a strategy to get round the constitution and stand for a third elected five-year term.

The National Episcopal Conference of the Congo (Cenco) said that the planned talks "should take place with absolute respect for the current constitutional and institutional framework", in a document signed by its leader Nicolas Djomo, the bishop of Tshumbe.

Kabila was first asked to take power in 2001, aged 29, to replace his murdered father, Laurent Desire-Kabila, during the Second Congo War, also known as the Great Africa War.

The conflict embroiled more than half a dozen countries until 2003 - partly because others wanted a stake in the DRC's fabulous mineral wealth - and is reported to have left more than three million people dead.

Sealed articles

Kabila took up his first elected term in 2006, under a new constitution drafted under the aegis of the United Nations, which provided for two five-year mandates in the vast nation of about 81 million people.

It's estimated that 80% of the population is Christians of different denominations.

The Cenco warned that to breach the constitution "or to proceed any other way brings the danger, with incalculable consequences for the nation, of reopening the debate on revising or amending sealed articles of the constitution, or in any case envisaging that perspective."

In a direct challenge to the authorities, church leaders also warned that "no transition" and "no extraordinary institutions" should be set up ahead of 2016 presidential and parliamentary polls, because these would again be "contrary to the constitution".

Kabila announced his plans for a national dialogue between a range of groups, from political parties to civil society, in June.

Read more on:    joseph kabila  |  drc  |  central africa

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