Congolese Bishops pull out of political dialogue

The Catholic bishops of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have pulled out of their mediation role between opposing political sides.

Amid continuing fears that President Laurent Kabila is about to launch an attempt to hold onto the reins of power for a constitutionally illegal third term, the bishops announced their withdrawal from a process aimed at negotiating a path towards peaceful elections as opposition parties also announced their own departure from talks.

In a statement, Archbishop Marcel Utembi Tapa of Kisangani, president of the bishops’ conference said: “Only an inclusive dialogue which respects the constitutional order will provide a framework for resolving our crisis. A large part of our fellow citizens will not feel themselves affected by a compromise which fails to obtain real solutions.”

On September 26, as he welcomed President Kabila to the Vatican, Pope Francis expressed concern at matters in the DRC, which has seen many deaths as police brutally supress pro-democracy demonstrations. However, despite the Pope’s intervention, the President has continued on his path to delaying elections, restating his intention to do so as late as October 4, leading to fears that the country will descend into chaos.