Public Declaration of the Committee of Coordination of Lay Catholics.
This Sunday, December 31st, 2017, we were millions across our country to be mobilized, beyond political labels and beyond individual considerations, to say STOP to the suffering of the Congolese people!
We walked to tell the world that we are taking our destiny back into our own hands
The powers that be have not hesitated to fire live ammunition at the population, to conduct mass arrests. They did not hesitate to lob tear gas cannisters into our churches during services and to prevent the faithful from leaving parish compounds in a serious violation of the sacred nature of these places.
In spite of this violent repression, despite the numerous barricades placed to encircle neighborhoods and parishes in the capital, the population showed its solid determination for everyone to see. They did not give in to fear but marched with courage and discipline.
No one can believe himself stronger than all of us together!
The provisional toll is heavy: there were a dozen dead, dozens are wounded and hundreds were arrested.
We think of our compatriots who lost their lives and of their families; we tell them that their sacrifice will not be in vain.
We know that we can count on the solidarity of Congolese men and women to organize the funeral of our compatriots, but also to contribute to the care of our wounded.
We congratulate those of our Congolese military and police who have understood the meaning and message of these brothers and sisters who, in places, undertook to demonstrate peacefully.
We also congratulate our compatriots who have walked in Dakar, Paris, Brussels, London, Geneva, and elsewhere in the world.
By our walk this Sunday, December 31, 2017, we have made an appointment with history.
It is a march of hope for a much needed renewal in our country
A march of hope for the nearly 4 million of our compatriots who are displaced, some after having suffered atrocities, without those who govern us showing the slightest regret.
A march of hope for families broken by violence, rapes, massacres, killings and looting of their property.
A march of hope for our compatriots who languish in jail without indictment nor due process.
A march of hope to finally establish peace and prosperity in our country.
Yes, dear compatriots, those who cling to power in our country must know that power belongs to us, that the country belongs to us all.
We have decided to take back our destiny, to build a better future for our children, to call a halt to the dictatorship.
We are a blessed people to whom God has given a rich land.
Our heritage belongs to us all. And it is up to us all to assume our responsibilities, as did some of our compatriots before us.
Many of them have paid with their lives to contribute to our freedom.
We can be proud to have honored them with the march of this December 31, 2017.
We cannot go back.
Our children are watching us, the whole world is watching us, our conscience is challenging us.
We give ourselves a few days to bury our compatriots worthily, those who died for their country; and to treat our wounded.
The Congolese people will not give any more respite to the powers that be.
They demand the respect and the strict application of the agreement of New Year’s Eve i.e.:
- A public declaration by the President of the Republic that he will not be a candidate for his own succession in accordance with the constitution
- The effective, full and bona fide implementation of the ‘Sylvester Agreement’ (31st December 2016), including the following measures:
- The release of all political prisoners.
- The end of the exile of the opponents threatened with arrest on their return to the country.
- The end of the splitting of political parties
- Liberalization of public media and particularly of the RTNC.
- The reopening of unjustly closed media.
- The restructuring of the CENI (National Election Council) to recreate trust between the electorate and the institution organizing the elections.
- The use of the CENI’s recently proposed calendar as a working tool for the development of a consensual calendar.
- The free exercise of political activities by all.
This message addressed to the President of the Republic, to those in power and to all those who block the implementation of the New Year’s Eve agreement is not a message from the Committee of Coordination of Lay Catholics only , but of millions and millions of Congolese, from here and elsewhere, who spoke on December 31, 2017 with a determination to go all the way.
In the meantime, we ask you to remain mobilized and ready to respond en masse to the next call of the Lay Committee of Coordination.
For the Lay Committee of Coordination,
Professor Thierry NLANDU, Professor Isidore NDAYWEL