The DRC’s Catholic Church issued a stern condemnation of last year’s elections. It’s a welcome position from one of the most influential institutions in the country, but critics think the church didn’t go far enough. By SIMON ALLISON.
While the world’s attention has moved on swiftly, in the Democratic Republic of Congo tensions continue to run high after flawed elections in November. While parliamentary votes are still being counted, incumbent President Joseph Kabila retained his position on the presidential ballot, helped by blatant instances of electoral fraud. Whether this just increased his margin or gave him victory remains unclear, but it’s not an auspicious start to his term.
And the complaints just won’t go away. Last week, the Catholic Church in the DRC organised a meeting of bishops to review the findings of the church’s election monitoring team, the most extensive in the country. Their conclusion was that the election was marred by serious errors, but their strident tone was less expected.
“The electoral commission (must) have the courage to correct (these) serious errors or resign,” read the statement released after the meeting. “We cannot build a state in a culture of treachery, lies and terror, of militarisation and the flagrant violation of the freedom of expression.”
Strong words, indicative of a new unity within the ranks of the Catholic Church which has previously been too divided to really exert its authority in the political sphere. However, some say the statement was not strong enough, as it failed to call for the dissolution of government or the creation of a government of national unity. With more than half of the DRC’s population in its congregation, the Catholic Church has long been one of the most influential institutions in the country. DM
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