Catholic Church threatens to boycott DRC dialogue

The Catholic Church of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has threatened to withdraw from the “national dialogue” if it turns into a political forum meant to push for a “disguised mandate” for incumbent Joseph Kabila.

The National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) said in a statement on Tuesday that any attempt to extend Kabila’s constitutional mandate which ends later this year will end their participation in the Edem Kodjo led national dialogue.

Abbot Donatien Shole, CENCO’s delegate at the dialogue, told AFP that he was “satisfied” with efforts to engage some members of the “Rally”, a newly formed coalition led by historical opponent Étienne Tshisekedi in the dialogue.

“The CENCO cannot continue to participate in this dialogue if the fulfillment 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.

The national dialogue called by the incumbent president began on September 1 under the aegis of a facilitation of the African Union (AU) mediator, former Togolese Prime Minister, Edem Kodjo.

The dialogue which is also backed by the United Nations, the European Union and other bodies is aimed at getting DRC out of a political crisis that has rocked the country since the disputed re-election of Kabila in 2011.

Kabila has been in power since 2001, and is constitutionally bound to step down after serving two terms (winning 2006 and 2011 elections), opponents accuse him of deliberately delaying the Nov. 27 poll to cling to power.

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