A focus on church role in Democratic Republic of Congo elections

A focus on church role in Democratic Republic of Congo elections

The role of faith-based communities in the electoral process of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was explored in depth at an event organized by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in collaboration with the World Council of Churches (WCC).

The DRC is currently preparing for an election cycle. The country’s leading religious leaders, through the Commission for Integrity and Electoral Mediation (Commission d’Intégrité et de Médiation Electorale, CIME), have an important role to play in the process, in collaboration with all stakeholders.

The event in the United States, held on 10 November in Washington, D.C., featured presentations from international participants on themes such as the faith-based community’s role in educating citizens and monitoring the elections; strategies for preventing and mitigating electoral fraud and violence; and the importance of ensuring the DRC’s first democratic alternation of power.

The delegates brought by the WCC included Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, vice-moderator of the WCC Central Committee, Bishop David Kekumba Yemba, head of the United Methodist Church in the DRC and vice president of the DRC’s Commission of Integrity and Electoral Mediation, and  Rev. Andre Milenge, 2nd vice-president of the Église du Christ au Congo. The delegates were accompanied by Rudelmar Bueno de Faria, the WCC representative to the United Nations.

As part of the programme, the delegates also met with officials from the US Congress and State Department; their discussions focused on the situation in the DRC, as well as on the need for civic education and funding to ensure the elections will take place in time.

At the event, Bishop Mary Ann Swenson welcomed the participants and highlighted the WCC commitment towards “Justice and Peace”, introducing the WCC’s “Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace” – a call from its 10th Assembly in Busan. “The WCC made a commitment during the WCC Assembly to accompany DRC churches as part of the Pilgrimage, and particularly in relation to forthcoming elections in order to foster a peaceful process,” she said.

“The Washington DC meeting organized by the National Endowment for Democracy was an opportunity for many ecumenical partner organizations of the WCC to discover the significant work of the DRC Commission for Integrity and Electoral Mediation of CIME, its mission, mandate and commitment for sustainable peace,” said Bishop Yemba.

“This conference is another follow-up of the 27-29 May conference in Geneva on Peace and Security in the DRC. It is encouraging that partners are supporting our efforts to accompany churches in Congo for a peaceful electoral process,” added Semegnish Asfaw, WCC programme executive for international affairs.

Congolese church leader speaks on DRC electoral process at UN event (WCC news release of 17 September 2015)

WCC conference invites churches and partners to renew initiatives for just peace in the DRC (WCC news release of 1 June 2015)

WCC programme for human rights

WCC member churches in Democratic Republic of Congo