AFRICA/CONGO DR - The repression of the march on February 16: the evaluations of a missionary to Fides

Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) - "The opposition relied a lot on the success of this march to reassert itself at a political and social level. The police then intervened to prevent a successful initiative that would eventually have been in favor of President Kabila’s opponents. Perhaps this is the reason why to such a brutal intervention against peaceful demonstrators," said Fr. Loris Cattani, a Xaverian missionary and leader of the Peace Network for Congo, in an interview with Fides on the violent repression of the march convened on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the massacre of the faithful which took place on February 16, 1992 (see Fides 20/02/2012 ). Fr. Loris states that "it was an initiative at a local level, sponsored by the Conseil de l'Apostolat des Laics Catholiques Congolais (CALCC) in Kinshasa, not by the national CALCC, and did not directly involve the Archdiocese of Kinshasa. In other parts of the Country, members of the hierarchy expressed doubts about the opportunity of promoting this initiative." The missionary also expresses some doubts about the purpose of the march. "The organizers of the march called for the cancellation of the recent presidential and legislative elections. But that means leaving Kabila President pro tempore until the repetition of new elections and the appointment of a new Head of State, because there is an article of the Constitution which provides that the outgoing Head of State remains in office until the swearing in of his successor. In my opinion it would be better to ask for a verification of the vote instead of new elections, " said Fr. Loris. According to the missionary, moreover, "the international community is now willing to accept the results of the elections (won by Kabila), despite the protests and accusations of fraud, and reserves in the future to ensure that the Congolese elections are conducted in a different way. Kabila adopted the strategy of remaining silent, awaiting the definite legislative results in order to then continue to govern." "For these reasons, all things considered, the government would have done better to allow the carrying out of the march, even if members of the opposition had participated," said Father. Loris. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 21/2/2012)