Congolese Prelate Warns Nation Is in Danger

Cites Incursions by Rwandans

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KINSHASA, Congo, DEC. 21, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The Kinshasa government has to resolve the causes of aggression against the country from neighboring Rwanda, says a leading Congolese bishop.

Archbishop Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, president of the bishops’ conference, in a message, urged the government to seek the help of the international community to address “all the pretexts that are the cause of repeated aggressions against our country.”

“The Nation Is in Danger: Congolese People, Mobilize,” is the title of the Kisangani archbishop’s message, published at www.Fomeka.net, in which he assesses the state of the country and the risk of war.

“We condemn all the violence in progress in the Democratic Republic of Congo and firmly reaffirm that the national integrity and the country’s sovereignty cannot be negotiated. We say no to the Balkanization of Congo,” he said.

“For some time,” the archbishop warned, “… trustworthy information points once again to the presence of foreign troops on Congolese territory. The resumption of fighting causes movements of populations that are already extremely tested, thus creating a new and grave humanitarian crisis.”

The prelate believes that “this situation becomes even more scandalous and worrying because it is taking place some weeks after the signing of the solemn agreement of Dar es Salaam, in which heads of state of the Great Lakes region committed themselves to resolve jointly the problems of the region.”

The crisis that has exploded in the last few weeks in eastern Congo can “dangerously compromise” the process of transition which should lead the country to democratic elections, the archbishop said.

The process of national transition began in June 2003 with the formation of a government of national unity, which brings together all the parties and guerrilla movements. The government’s mission it is to prepare for the 2005 general elections.

Since 1998, the war in Congo has cost 3.5 million lives. The powers of the Great Lakes region are fighting over control of Congo’s immense natural resources.

Tension in the Congolese eastern province of Kivu North increased at the end of November.

Then, Rwandan officials threatened military intervention, reportedly crossing over the border into the Congolese forest to counter some rebel groups that are preparing new attacks against their native Rwanda, according to the Missionary Service News Agency. The Kigali government denied that it crossed the border.

Archbishop Monsengwo described Rwanda’s talk of countering the rebel groups as a “pretext.”

“We witness with indignation that every time that the Congo moves toward peace, visible and invisible forces try to block the path of growth towards a strong and prosperous state,” the archbishop said in his message.

The prelate recommended that Rwanda “withdraw its troops from the Congolese territory and understand that good neighbor relations, peace and development are preferable to a futile war.”

He recommended to the Congolese leadership that a new government be formed “capable of managing with competence and efficiency the crisis that threatens the country’s territorial integrity and that might compromise the transition.”

Hundreds of Rwandan soldiers and militias faithful to Kigali are laying waste to the border region of Kivu. The Italian newspaper Avvenire estimates that there are hundreds of victims from the fighting, and that tens of thousands of civilians are fleeing the area. The United Nations also confirms the “invasion.”

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