Pope Francis Meets Embattled Congolese President in Vatican

Fredrick Ngugi October 01, 2016
Congolese president Joseph Kabila (l) with Pope Francis (r) in Vatican. Fox News

Pope Francis met with the embattled Congolese President Joseph Kabila on Monday in a brief sitting that has left many tongues wagging, wondering what could have been the agenda.

According to Quartz, the Vatican insisted on the need for the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo to use respectful dialogue to end violent clashes with opposition forces over delayed elections.

Contrary to the Vatican’s protocol, the pontiff did not greet President Kabila in the reception area, but rather he waited for him in the Pope’s library.

“My thoughts go out to the people of North Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, recently hit by new massacres that for a long time have been perpetrated in a shameful silence, without even attracting our attention,” the Pope said.

Return to War

Over the past few weeks, dozens of people in DRC have lost their lives following deadly clashes between opposition protesters and security forces.

Opposition leaders and their supporters have been staging massive protests on the streets of Kinshasa, DRC’s capital, over plans by the government to postpone presidential elections, which are slated for November.

The Congolese government maintains that it does not have the needed resources to hold elections in November, while the opposition insists that the planned delay is an attempt by President Kabila to extend his reign when his final term comes to an end in December.

Many now fear that the continued stalemate between the government and the opposition might take Congo back to a deadly civil war.

According to the Vatican, the Pope and Vatican foreign minister emphasized on the need for Congolese politicians, civil society and religious leaders to have a dialogue that will ensure peace and the common good of the people.

“These victims are some, unfortunately, of the many innocents who have no weight in the international opinion,” the Pope stated.

In August, on the feast of the Assumption of Mary, Pope Francis included the Democratic Republic of Congo in the series of global conflicts that he described as covered in “shameful silence.”

Joseph Kabila has been the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo since 2001. He took over after his father Laurent Kabila was assassinated.

The Congolese constitution requires him to relinquish power in December when his second and final term ends.

Last Edited by:Sandra Appiah Updated: June 19, 2018


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