Working Toward a Peaceful Election in the Congo

29 April 2018, 2:11 AM
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Madam Leila Zarougui with members of ACIP

The newly appointed Special Representative of the UN Secretary General and Head of MONUSCO, Madam Leila Zerrougui, met with All Congo InterFaith Platform (ACIP) to assess the country's global situation. She was welcomed by Reverend Milenge Mwenelwata of the Protestant Church (ECC), who greeted Madam Leila as a returning guest of ACIP, since she came in the past as a UN Special Envoy to assess the humanitarian situation in the country. She therefore knows the DRC well.

Considering the issues, Madam Leila, after having thanked ACIP for welcoming her, asked the Faith Leaders what needs to be done so that elections will bring positive outcomes in the country, as the UN prepares to vote on its annual budget in June. She insisted that as the main faith-based organization in the country, ACIP has a key role to play in seeking peace, social cohesion, and serenity, and must stand as a voice for minorities. She also urged people to keep trusting faith leaders in their respective religious communities.

It's been almost 57 years since independence, but the country has not yet been able to witness a peaceful transfer of power such as some other countries in Africa have achieved. She condemned people who believe in violence as a way to access power, while affirming that the election is a process that has to be completed for the benefit of the entire country. She pointed out that the electoral process is progressing well. The renewal of the voter registry is complete, with 46 million voters registered. In pursuit of the process, she agreed that some key remaining laws need to be voted on by the parliament in respect to the electoral calendar. She said that the country is relying on the good will of the government to finance the overall process, along with contributions from the UN and foreign partners. Her role as a UN Representative is not to suggest orders, she said, but to move the electoral process forward and bring people of different opinions together.

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Ms. Zerrougui speaking with members of ACIP

Imam Moussa Rachid of the Islamic Community, Coordinator of the Commission for Integrity and Electoral Mediation (CIME), spoke at length about the role faith leaders play in preventing violence that nobody could otherwise stop. He said that ACIP believes in elections as the only way forward to reach a peaceful transfer of power. Imam Moussa Rachid praised the Congo for being closer than ever to that ideal. Speaking on behalf of CIME, Imam Moussa Rachid requested that the Head of MONUSCO give prime focus to CIME. He also called on the UN to fulfill its promises of material assistance to the Electoral Commission. Reverend Elebe Kapalay, the Chairman of CIME and Deputy Head of the Kimbanguist Chrurch, spoke of the collaboration between ACIP and MONUSCO. He called for reinforcement of the working collaboration. He informed listeners that CIME has launched an emergency alert mechanism to prevent electoral disputes and violence. Reverend Milenge of the Protestant Church thanked Madam Leila Zarougui for welcoming a delegation of ACIP members at the UN Headquarters during a 2012 trip to advocate for peace in the DRC. He suggested that the UN keep a close watch on the security situation in DRC, as instability has begun to develop in several parts of the country. In her closing remarks, Madam Leila Zerrougui suggested that ACIP work closely with the Electoral Commission to complete the process of the election.

Cooperation Circles Involved

All Congo Interfaith Platform

“Our purpose is to strengthen inter-religious cooperation across the DRC. We promote a culture of peace and mutual understanding among faith leaders and among followers of different beliefs. Out of many, we ensure to stay one and united as people created in the image of God. We contribute in building bridges and crossover religious and traditional limitations to be fully helpful to Mother Earth and to every human being. Part of our daily effort is reaching the national reconciliation which is key to social acceptance and mutual understanding. We strengthen the bones of unity and solidarity among people of different religions and beliefs.”