2015-08-01 11:30:00

Church in Congo says yes to dialogue but with respect for the constitution

The Church in the DRC has hosted a debate to discuss the importance of political dialogue in view of upcoming general elections in that country.

"Dialogue is considered the founding principle of democracy and nationhood," Secretary General of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Democratic Republic of Congo (CENCO), Fr. Leonard Santedi has said. He was speaking, this week on Tuesday, in a debate organised by CENCO.

Various political parties from the ruling and opposition, members of parliament, civil society and a group of analysts met in Kinshasa to discuss the importance of political dialogue in the Democratic Republic of Congo in view of upcoming general elections.

Fr. Santedi told the gathering that the Catholic Church is not opposed to the idea of dialogue, but insists on respect for the Constitution. "Yes to dialogue, but with respect for fundamental law," he said.

Congo’s Constitution has an expiry date for the election of the republican president and has set limits for which a president can hold office. There is widespread suspicion in the DRC that the ruling party would like to override the presidential limits in order to allow for an unconstitutional extension in favour of the incumbent, President Joseph Kabila.

"Dialogue is seen as the active principle of every society. It is the principle which builds harmony in society," said André Alain Atundu, governing party spokesman. However, this opinion was not shared by opposition member, Franck Diongo who considers dialogue "in the present context, a deception and a trap."

The Catholic Church in the DRC has reiterated its position that elections must take place as scheduled, “in absolute respect for the current constitutional and institutional framework.” In other words, there should be no constitutional changes to presidential term limits.

 (Agenzia Fides)

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