Kinshasa. — The powerful Roman Catholic church in the Democratic Republic of Congo has cancelled memorial marches in February on the Vatican’s recommendation as tensions mount ahead of elections due this year.
The church had called for “peaceful” memorial rallies on February 16 to mark a 1992 “March of Christians” that was violently put down by the regime of the erstwhile dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.
“This initiative drew contrasting and disproportionate reactions from our countrymen,” said Monsignor Nicolas Djomo, the head of the National Episcopal Conference of the Congo (CENCO), in a letter to priests across the country.
The letter, seen by AFP yesterday, said the “Holy See strongly recommended the suspension of initiatives which could be manipulated for political ends,” said the letter, written on January 5.
President Joseph Kabila has called for a “national dialogue” to help ensure “peaceful elections” due this year, but the opposition says this is a strategy to get round the constitution and stand for a third elected five-year term.
On Saturday, a new anti-Kabila grouping called the Front Citoyen 2016 grouping political parties and associations had said it would join February’s memorial marches.
And on Tuesday, the ruling party called for a peace march on the very same day of the memorial rallies. — AFP.