West & Central Africa

Desperate bid for peace: Congo Catholics broker talks

The Congolese Catholic Church, which has been working tirelessly in peace negotiations, is hoping to get talks going again. Many Congolese are losing hope for a peaceful resolution to the long-running conflict.

Archbishop Fridolin Ambongo, of Mbandaka and mediator in the talks, said the contentious points of debate are on ways to appoint the Prime Minister, and the president of the National Council for the Monitoring of the Agreement and how positions in the new government will be distributed.

“According to our evaluation one afternoon might be enough to finish what remains to be settled, unless the stakeholders are in bad faith,” Ambongo told Radio France Internationale. “And there is urgency! I believe that the urgency is even evident for the population. The Congolese people are impatient,” he said.

“At the same time, we see the situation in the country – our country is in bad shape. So we really need to bring this matter, which has been dragging, to a close, to ensure the formation of a new government resulting from the agreement, and that the new president, gets down to work.”

The talks that started amidst riots and disagreements late last year stalled since 28 January after CENCO bishops left the DRC on a mission abroad and Le Rassemblement’s leader Etienne Tshisekedi, who was set to oversee transition of power, died aged 84 on 1 February.

President Kabila who has been accused of trying to extend his tenure contrary to constitutional provisions however said thateverything was in place to ensure the country could finally move towards its first peaceful democratic handover.

The Bishops are hoping to tackle existing conflicts in order to find a final agreement in this new round of talks, according to a report.