An estimated five million people were killed between 1997 and 2003 in ethnic violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo under Joseph Kabila's father, Laurent Kabila, who violently overthrew Mobutu. Joseph Kabila took power in 2001 at age of 29 after the assassination of his father.
The bishops must realize how fragile the hope of a truly democratic transition is in one of the most resource-rich countries in the world where the people are so poor that an estimated 10 percent of the population of 78 million people experience extreme hunger.
However, the clergy still hold the bar high for their national government, remaining "convinced that only credible, transparent and inclusive elections are the solution to the current crisis in the DRC."
The bishops denounced the current government's decision to prevent the opposition leader, Moïse Katumbi, who has been living in exile, from re-entering the country to become a presidential candidate. The bishops stressed that everyone should be given the "equality of opportunity" in the elections.
Meanwhile, the former vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba, who was convicted of war crimes in International Criminal Court in 2016 and then acquitted in June, returned to the DRC last week to seek election.
"The elections that the Congolese people are waiting for must be credible, transparent and inclusive," said the bishops' statement earlier this week.
The bishops called on the intercession of Blessed Marie-Clementine Nengapeta and Isidore Bakanja as their country attempts its first peaceful transition of power in modern history.
The U.S. State Department said it is "encouraged" by the news that Kabila will not seek a third term, according to a statement released Aug. 9, which calls on the DRC National Independent Electoral Commission and Congolese authorities to provide public access to the new voter registry and voting methods.