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DRC: in the name of the Father, of the Son ... and of Politics

The National Episcopal Conference of Congo, at the end of its meeting of February 24, questioned the competence and faith of Felix Tshisekedi. The DRC presidency responded sternly to this statement.

The cold war between the Congolese presidency and the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) has turned a corner. More violent. Now is the time to exchange scuds.

After an attempt to influence the Constitutional Court in the scandal that affected Justin Luemba, it is the turn of the executive power to be in the crosshairs of the Church. It is a statement, published at the end of the February 24 meeting of the CENCO committee, which ignited the powder. In essence, the country's religious authorities accuse President Felix Tshisekedi of being, like his predecessor, a corrupt despot.

An outing, not really divine, which did not leave Felix Tshisekedi indifferent. The presidential communications department was slow to respond, but eventually released heavy artillery against the Church. It qualifies in fact the declaration of the CENCO of "speech with political scents" and denounces "connections with obscure pharmacies".

Tschisekedi accuses the Church of populism

The response of the presidency to the Catholic episcopate, in a Facebook post dated March 2, will not fail to challenge. The Church is powerful in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and opposing it is not really the best political calculation there is.

Whatever, the presidency of the DRC wanted to clarify things by qualifying the declaration of the bishops as "immoral". The palace calls on CENCO to reconsider its dangerous turn towards populism and its “desire for buzz”. He also reminds the bishops that they have a statute to respect, and that it is not in their attributions to talk about politics.

"All this is worthy of an insurrectionary activism and, icing on the cake, attests to partisan attitudes, contrary to their social status", simply declared the presidency.

For the president's communications department, this attempt to amalgamate Tshisekedi and his predecessor, Joseph Kabila, is unworthy. “So where does the fear of the princes of the Church come from? A fear that they are struggling to get rid of to the point of blaming Felix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo for free the once catchy hints detected ”in his predecessor, questions the presidency, which is doing a double blow by also criticizing Kabila.

A simple battle between Catholics and Evangelists?

But it is above all the passing of arms between Church and presidency that detonates, in a country where religious leaders regularly try to play the referees. This muscular exchange can also resemble a match between Catholics and evangelists. Felix Tshisekedi is indeed a more than assumed evangelist. His chief of staff, Vital Kamerhe, who would be at the origin of the muscular response to CENCO, is also a member of the famous Philadelphia Church, of the Congolese president.

During his electoral campaign, Félix Tshisekedi was able to rely on the most fervent Pentecostals, even the most virulent, of the country. Far from the secular image that the president sends abroad. In addition, Tshisekedi is supported by Pastor Alph Lukau in South Africa and Reverend Sam Ankrah in Ghana.

So when religious leaders become politicized, it gives rise to a latent conflict between churches and power. Since the beginning of the 1960s, the Catholic Church of the DRC has imposed itself as a fierce opposition to successive presidents. But today, she passes the second, as if to warn of the dangers of political evangelism ...

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