Kin­shasa's arch­bishop, govt critic, steps down

Observer on Saturday - - News -

Lau­rent Mon­sen­gwo, arch­bishop of Kin­shasa and a vo­cal gov­ern­ment critic, has stepped down, the church said on Thurs­day, just weeks be­fore key elec­tions to re­place Pres­i­dent Joseph Ka­bila.

The 79-year-old Mon­sen­gwo passed the ba­ton to Fri­dolin Am­bongo, who will take over as de facto leader of the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo's pow­er­ful Catholic Church.

"Pope Fran­cis to­day ac­cepted the res­ig­na­tion of car­di­nal Lau­rent Mon­sen­gwo," Kin­shasa arch­dio­cese spokesper­son Bruno Lu­songakio told AFP, adding that "Fri­dolin Am­bongo has taken over the reins."

KIN­SHASA - Suc­ces­sive

Mon­sen­gwo is a harsh critic of the vi­o­lence that has plagued his coun­try for decades, in­clud­ing suc­ces­sive civil wars that killed mil­lions.

In Jan­uary, the arch­bishop placed him­self on a po­ten­tial col­li­sion course with those in power over a New Year's Eve crack­down on Catholic demon­stra­tors de­mand­ing an end to Ka­bila's pres­i­dency.

"We can only de­nounce, con­demn and stig­ma­tise the be­hav­iour of our sup­pos­edly coura­geous men in uni­form, who, sadly... are chan­nelling bar­barism," Mon­sen­gwo said at the time.

In­com­pe­tence

Ka­bila has been in power since 2001, at the helm of a regime widely crit­i­cised for cor­rup­tion, re­pres­sion, and in­com­pe­tence.

His con­sti­tu­tional term in of­fice ex­pired in De­cem­ber 2016, but the church bro­kered a deal seek­ing to avert a blood­bath by al­low­ing Ka­bila to stay in of­fice pro­vided elec­tions to re­place him were held in 2017.

Ka­bila has bowed to in­ter­na­tional pres­sure to step aside and the vote will fi­nally be held on De­cem­ber 23.

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