We continue to ask for prayers for peace in Congo. DRC is a lush green land with so many hard-working, loving people –why in so many places is an already very difficult life made more vulnerable by conflict and fear? Here are just a few highlights, if you have been wondering about the situation:
1. On February 1, Etienne Tshisekedi, the primary opposition leader, died in Paris. The Congolese government did not want to allow his body to be brought back to DRC to be buried, because of how that might stir up his supporters. They have finally accepted, and his body is due to be brought back on March 11 (see here for more details). There is still controversey, however, and this could potentially stir up political tensions again. Please pray for a peaceful buriel, Kasai is his home region, so the people there are very concerned about this.
2. At the end of December, a peace agreement was signed between the goverment and an opposition coalition. One of the primary stipulations was that presidential elections would be held by the end of 2017. The government finance minister recently said that elections may be too expensive to hold, which throws some doubt on whether the government will respect the agreement. Pray that there would be willpower and cooperation in the government to hold fair elections this year, and that a good leader would be elected.
3. There has been a tribal militia group active in Kasai since September 2016 (see our blog post from that time for more details). We thought that it had fizzled out, but recently learned that they have actually gained steam and recruited many local youth to join them in opposing the government. They control a few vilages surrounding Tshikaji (near Kananga), and the schools there have been closed since December. The government army has been actively fighting this militia (referred to as the Kamuina Nsapu militia), and a few weeks ago there was a clash in a village market, killing more than 40 women.
There was also an attack (we think by this same group) last week on a Catholic seminary in Kananga and the surrounding neighborhood. The kids in the Ditekemena program, which now includes some refugee children from the village where the militia originates, were once more forced to move from their Center and relocate to the homes of caretakers because they are in the same neighborhood as the Catholic Seminary that was attacked. Please pray for resolution to this conflict in Kasai, that kids in Tshikaji would be able to resume school, and for protection on the Ditekemena kids and all the innocent people in this region.
Thank you for your prayers. We join with our struggling brothers and sisters in Congo to pray for peace and a positive way forward for their country. “In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.” (Ephesians 6:18 from The Message)