Catholics in Congo are planning more large-scale, peaceful demonstrations across the country to protest President Joseph Kabila’s refusal to leave power.
“Let’s stay together, ready to face the worst, to snatch the best,” the church’s lay coordination committee said in a 1st May statement after a two-day meeting in the capital, Kinshasa.
Noting the “uncertainty of the electoral calendar,” the committee said it fears another postponement of elections or “a mockery” of a poll that has no “guarantee of transparency and credibility” and is “without political restraint measures.”
The Catholic Church makes up around half the 67.5 million inhabitants of Congo, and the bishops have pressed Kabila to step down since his second and final term expired in December 2016.
Later, a church-brokered accord allowed the president to stay in office, alongside an opposition head of government, pending elections by the end of 2017. However, in November, Congo’s Electoral Commission said the ballot would be postponed until 23rd December 2018.
At least five people died and 120 people were detained when security forces attacked Catholic protesters on 31st December in Kinshasa. Since then, 16 people have been killed in three protest marches.
Picture: Protestors attempt to leave the safe heaven of a church during violent protests late January in Kinshasa, Congo. Catholics in Congo are planning more large-scale, peaceful demonstrations across the country to protest President Joseph Kabila’s refusal to leave power. (CNS photo/Robert Carrubba, EPA).