AFRICA/DR CONGO - Protest of bells: justice calls its initiator, Fr. Tshomba

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) - Senior priest of Kinshasa Father Vincent Tshomba appeared before a court on December 27 in the capital of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) over charges relating to a call he made to ring the bells for 15 minutes every week to demand the departure of President Joseph Kabila whose mandate expired at the end of 2016 (see Fides 12/12/2017).
"We are in the public prosecutor’s office in Kalamu with Father Vincent Tshomba who has been called for the second time", said one of his lawyers stressing that the reasons for the convocation were not specified.
He is facing a complaint filed by the National Union of Nationalists (UNANA), a party deemed close to the presidential majority, led by Willy Mishiki.
Father Tshomba is accused of being the initiator of a call called “operation bells” to demand the application of the New Year’s Eve agreement, for the creation of a national unity government to prepare the presidential elections by 2017. In the meantime Kabila would remain interim President. The executive born in May 2017 does not include an important part of the opposition, while on November 5th the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) announced that the presidential, legislative, provincial and local elections will be held on December 23rd 2018 (see Fides 06/11/2017). This allows Kabila to remain in power for at least another year.
The initiative of the parish priests wants to respond to the request of the Congolese Bishops, who at the end of November had launched an appeal to respect the New Year's Eve Agreements. The Bishops, taking note of the new election date, said they were "deeply disappointed to find themselves in the same context of tensions as the end of 2016 and had warned that "the people will not tolerate the fact that this can happen in 2018"(see Fides, 28/11/2017). The Congolese Episcopal Conference (CENCO) reiterated the need to apply the agreements and called for the holding of credible and transparent elections. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 28/12/2017)