Originally published in Premier Christian Radio
A senior cleric from the Democratic Republic of Congo has accused the West of deliberately ignoring the extreme violence in the country.
Fr Apollinaire Cikongo, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Kananga, told Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) that the international community was guilty of “a conspiracy of silence that is very profitable economically”.
John Pontifex from ACN told Premier the priest told the charity details about corruption in the mining of coltan, an ore that is used in smartphone batteries and computers.
He said there was merit in the priest’s claims.
He added: “The understanding from Fr Cikongo and others is that the terms of the deals that have been struck with regard to the mining of this particular iron metallic ore is such that it disadvantages the local communities.”
Civil wars and militia conflicts have plagued the Republic of Congo claiming up to six million lives.
Pontifex told Premier what steps are needed to restore peace in the country.
“It’s important that people have faith in the political process and that faith seems to be critically undermined by the situation in which the President is accused of outstaying his welcome in terms of remaining in power there,” Pontifex added.
Joseph Kabila, 46, is the country’s president and Africa’s youngest head of state, despite having ruled for 17 years.
This month, the United Nations human rights office condemned the violent response by government security forces in the DRC against people protesting the refusal of President Kabila to resign.
At least five people were killed, 92 were injured and around 180 were arrested during recent protests in the country’s capital, Kinshasa, and a number of other cities.