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Catholic bishops suspend involvement in 'national dialogue' talks in Democratic Republic of Congo

September 23, 2016

The Catholic bishops of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have announced that they are backing away temporarily from involvement in national dialogue on elections, as tensions mount in the troubled African country.

The Catholic bishops had originally supported the national dialogue, as a means of avoiding violence in the face of conflicts over proposals for a new constitution, complaints of human-rights violations, and the push to re-elect President Joseph Kabila. But Archbishop Marcel Utembi, the president of the Congo episcopal conference, told Vatican Radio that the bishops felt it appropriate to suspend their participation in the talks for an indefinite period, as they mourn the more than 50 people who were killed in violent confrontations in the Kinshasa, the nation's capital, this week. Three opposition parties also saw their headquarters buildings torched during the week's rioting. President Kabila has announced that he will postpone national elections under the end of this year as a result of the violence.

Earlier this month the Catholic bishops had threatened to pull out of the national dialogue if President Kabila went ahead with a plan to seek another term in office, despite a clear constitutional ban on a third term.


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