DRC: bishops suspect policies of instrumentalizing conflict in west

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The Catholic bishops, without naming them, accused Congolese political leaders on Sunday of instrumentalizing a community conflict that has killed hundreds in the west of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

This community violence began last June in the territory of Kwamouth (province of Mai-Ndombe), around a land dispute between the Teke, who consider themselves to be from and owners of the villages located along the Congo River for about 200 kilometers , and the Yaka came to settle after them.

Since then, the violence has spread to the neighboring provinces of Kwilu and Kwango to reach the commune of Maluku, at the entrance to Kinshasa. They killed at least 300 people, according to the NGO Human Rights Watch.

"Following pastoral visits, interviews, contacts and testimonies collected from different layers of the population, we have come to the intimate conviction that bloodthirsty invisible hands, from Kinshasa are hiding behind this conflict. “, affirmed, in a statement, the bishops of nine dioceses.

They said so in Kenge, at the end of an episcopal assembly of the western region, including the dioceses located in the provinces of Kinshasa, Kongo-central, Kwango, Kwilu and Mai-Ndombe.

"Starting from a land dispute, this conflict is taken over by + people who defend hidden interests of a political and economic nature +". It is an "instrumentalization of the conflict by certain politicians in search of local legitimacy", estimated the prelates.

"Remove your bloodthirsty hands from our provinces, act responsibly to protect our people, stop manipulating and instrumentalizing a people already bruised by suffering, misery and recurring mourning," he said, paraphrasing Pope Francis. .

During his visit to Kinshasa at the end of January, where he denounced "economic colonialism", the sovereign pontiff notably declared: "Get your hands off Africa!", "Stop suffocating Africa: it is not not a mine to exploit nor a land to plunder".

The Congolese bishops have also urged a "harmonious living together between different peoples" of the DRC.

In Kisangani (center-east), a similar conflict has been brewing since April between members of the Lengola and Mbole tribes, while the eastern provinces have been plagued for nearly 30 years by deadly violence by armed groups, local and foreign.

The Editorial Board (with AFP)

Image credit: Creative Commons/Flickr 

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