The National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) on Tuesday suspended its participation in the national dialogue called by President Joseph Kabila due to the violent events that occurred in the central African nation on Monday.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the Bishops of the Catholic Church said they had opted out of the dialogue in order to “mourn” after the deadly events of the past two days in the country. The Church has yet to state when they will return to the dialogue.
Reactions have increased across the world since the start of violence on Monday that left 17 dead according to authorities and 50 according to a latest report given by Human Rights Watch.
The CENCO reiterated that whatever the consensus reached by the dialogue team, the incumbent president should not be eligible to stand in the next elections whenever they are due to be held.
In early September, the clergy had threatened 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.
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.
The Catholic Church, the dominant faith in the DRC with some 40% of Congolese being adherents, has played a leading role in the process of democratization in the DRC at the beginning of the 1990s. Its withdrawal from the on-going process might strongly affect the credibility of the dialogue.