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Prayer as the Congo goes to the polls: The Church of England Newspaper, December 2, 2011 p 7. December 7, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of the Congo, Church of England Newspaper, Politics.
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Bishop Sylvestre Bahati Balibusane of Bukavu

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Bishop of Bukavu has asked for the prayer of the Anglican Communion for the people of the Congo as voters in Africa’s largest nation go to the polls this week.

While the country’s civil war officially came to a close in 2003, the Congo has yet to witness the dividends of peace as rebel troops and rival militias “have caused death of many people and have plunged the country in poverty due to a great insecurity,” wrote Bishop Sylvester Bahati Balibusane.

On 28 Nov 2011 the Congo’s 32 million voters were asked to choose from among 18,500 candidates competing for 500 seats in parliament.  President Joseph Kabila is also seeking reelection and is facing 10 rival candidates.

In the capital of Kinshasa, heavily armed police patrolled the streets on Sunday night in a bid to forestall partisan violence.  While the 2006 elections were generally viewed as free and fair, they were marked by gun battles between rival political groups.  UN Peacekeepers along with and helicopters from Angola and South Africa have ferried ballots to the 60,000 polling stations across the country.

The chairman of the electoral commission, Daniel Ngoy Mulunda, told Reuters the election was “going to be a celebration of democracy. The Congolese people are going to take the second step in the consolidation of their democracy. We have kept our promise.”

Bishop Balibusane wrote the five years since the last election has seen a “transformation of peace” in the Congo, with pockets of “insecurity from the militias” in the “east of the country.”

“The mandate of the current government is at the end. Congolese people are going to new presidential and legislative elections,” he wrote, but “as we know, elections in Africa are often a cause of war if the candidates cannot agree with the results.”

“Therefore, we require prayer assistance so that the elections in D.R. Congo may take place in peace with results contributing to the peace establishment everywhere in the country,” the bishop said.

Provisional results from the elections are expected to be released by 6 December 2011.