DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO
“The world knows what is happening, but is keeping quiet”
On 31 December 2017, a march organized to protest against the continuing leadership of Joseph Kabila as president of the country turned into a riot. The result was a dozen or so deaths and 120 arrests. The DR Congo has in fact been going through a major crisis ever since December 2016. Below we give an update in the form of an interview with Father Apollinaire Cibaka Cikongo, a professor at the seminary of Christ the King (Christ Roi) in Malole, Kananga, in the province of Central Kasai in the south of the country.
ACN: What actually happened on New Year’s Eve?
The army and the police fired with live ammunition on parishioners during Holy Mass, when they were about to take part in a peaceful march organized by the Lay Coordination Committee, led by some of the Catholic university professors. All these Christians were asking for was the implementation of the New Year’s Eve agreement concluded in December 2016, a year earlier, which in particular involved the agreement by the President of the Republic not to stand for a third term (in accordance with the terms of the Constitution).
ACN: Is opposition to the government possible without a bloodbath?
Media opposition is non-existent, and the political opposition is hopelessly fragmented on account of the multiplication of political parties – almost 600 of them! Which leads to a veritable cacophony.
ACN: So is the Church the sole opposition force?
She is certainly the most credible institution in the country and consequently finds herself in the line of fire. But it is necessary because no one else dares to protest.
ACN: How important was this march from 31st December?
This kind of internal pressure against the ruling power is not enough. There also have to be external pressures. Joseph Kabila came to power thanks to the protection of his Western (sic.) patrons, major powers such as India, China, or thanks to the multinationals, in exchange for control over the mineral resources of the country. As long as these sponsors do nothing, there will be no way out of the crisis.
ACN: So has the international community forgotten your country?
The world knows what is happening here, but since our sufferings serve the material comforts of other peoples, there is a complicit intellectual silence.
Aid to the Church in Need has given over 3.3 million Euros in 2016 for projects in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In the past year, the foundation has supported 41 seminaries in the country, thereby helping a total of 1229 seminarians. At the present time, ACN is again helping for the reconstruction of the major seminary in Malole.
Emmanuelle Ollivry – ACN International