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DRC bishops hopeful political peace talks entering last phase as negotiations resume today

Failings to ensure first peaceful transition of power in DRC could spark rise of insecurity and instability.


The Congolese Catholic Church (CENCO), which has been tasked with mediating the political negotiations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, is urging the different actors involved to wind up the talks, as the discussions resume later today (16 March).

Opposition leader Moïse Katumbi, who has been in exile for 10 months, earlier this week accused President Joseph Kabila of purposefully blocking the implementation of a power-sharing deal leading to a new unity government.

The agreement between the opposition – including coalition platform Le Rassemblement (Rally) – and Kabila, who is accused of wanting to stay in power beyond his constitutional limit, signalled that everything was in place to ensure the country could finally move towards its first peaceful democratic handover.

But the talks over the implementation of the accord reached have been suspended 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.

CENCO bishops are hoping to tackle existing conflicts in order to find a final agreement in this new round of talks, which start at 15:00 GMT.

Quoted by RFI, Fridolin Ambongo, Archbishop of Mbandaka and mediator in the talks, said the sticking issues remained about the way in which the Prime Minister, and the president of the National Council for the Monitoring of the Agreement are appointed as well as the distribution of posts in the new government.

The Archbishop said he is hopeful these issues will be revolved soon. "According to our evaluation (of the situation), one afternoon might be enough to finish what remains to be settled, unless the stakeholders are in bad faith," Ambongo told RFI. "And there is urgency! I believe that the urgency is even evident for the population. The Congolese people are impatient. And people are call us."

He added: "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 (head of state) gets down to work."

Jimirasire

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