Democratic Republic of Congo’s Catholic Church accused the government of “treachery, lies and terror” and urged the electoral commission to fix errors from a controversial November presidential poll or resign.
The move by the Church, an influential player in the overwhelmingly Christian country, is likely to heap pressure on President Joseph Kabila following his re-election in a vote that was rejected by the opposition and condemned by international observers for widespread irregularities.
“The electoral commission (must) have the courage to correct (these) serious errors or resign,” the Catholic bishops council said in a statement read out at a special service in the capital’s largest cathedral on Thursday, Reuters reports.
The speech, greeted by loud applause, also condemned alleged repression of civil liberties following the release of results from the Nov. 28 poll and called on the security forces to disobey “unjust orders.”
“We cannot build a state in a culture of treachery, lies and terror, of militarization and the flagrant violation of the freedom of expression,” the statement, read by the secretary general of the bishop’s council, Leonard Santedi, said.
The Catholic Church had the largest network of independent observers during the election, which was meant to show Congo’s gains in stability since a 1998-2003 war that claimed more than five million lives.
Counting for the parliamentary vote is continuing but the process has been engulfed by complaints from rival politicians questioning the credibility of the process. Human Rights Watch estimates 24 people have been killed by security forces since Kabila’s victory.
Congo’s government has repeatedly rejected criticism of the process and Kabila has said his victory “cannot be put in doubt” even if there were irregularities.
“No electoral or sociological expert can say that president Kabila should have had fewer votes than (opposition leader Etienne) Tshisekedi,” said Professor Eugene Banyaku, a specialist in internal relations and consultant for Kabila’s ruling coalition.
The move by the Catholic bishops council follows criticism of the electoral process by the archbishop of Kinshasa, Laurent Monsengwo, who last week called for the results to be annulled and for the population to start civil disobedience.
Tshisekedi has also rejected the results and sworn himself in as president.