Congo-Kinshasa (MNN) — The president of the Democratic Republic of Congo Joseph Kabila says the much-anticipated elections will not be this November, as originally planned, but in two more years. The government says it needs more time to make sure elections run smoothly.
Teach Beyond’s George Durance says what it boils down to is economics. “People are very, very unhappy about the fact that the president has postponed the election and used a devious way to get around the census and the actual planned election.”
A delay in the elections would allow Kabila to stay in power beyond the end of his second term. What greeted his announcement was days of deadly rioting. Although the smoke has since cleared, the rumblings threaten to burst into flame at the slightest provocation.
“They want reform. They want change. They need jobs, education and so on. It’s very basic living issues are driving the unrest.”
As Durance was in DRC getting ready to meet with the Congolese partners, the State Department issued a travel warning, noting the potential for civil unrest was high in parts of the capital, Kinshasa, and other major cities.
“We’re working with our local Teach Beyond organization and developing some partnerships, expanding the work that’s going on there. It’s been very fruitful and very exciting, actually”, he explains.
They were planning on a day of meetings near the capital city, when Kabila made his announcement. “All these little rumblings that we’d heard about (some of the riots that had taken place two weeks ago), suddenly took on a whole new intensity and completely disrupted our lives and the lives of our people there in the city.”
It immediately threw everything into chaos, says Durance. Meanwhile, “our colleagues are in life-threatening situations.” They put everything on hold until the all-clear sounds.
A meeting can be rescheduled. Teams will still communicate on the mission and vision to see communities transformed by Christ through education. “God takes evil and brings good out of it. But He exhorts us to pray for peace, and it makes all the difference for our people there. The big issue is not for the global organizations. It’s about the people there.”
As they monitor the situation in Congo, there’s one thought to keep in mind: “The vast majority of people do not want a civil war; they don’t want a lot of killing. Though they want to see the emergence of democracy, and they are idealistic people, just like we are, they’re pragmatists and they really don’t want this war.”
He concludes with a reminder that, “These are really exciting days for the evangelical Church in the DRC. There is growth now in depth and we’re seeing wonderful leaders emerge and new health and vitality in the Church, so we don’t become discouraged when we see this upset, but we really call on our people to pray for those who are there, the brothers and sisters who are there, because we don’t want the Evil One to put a damper on the great things God is doing.”
Pray for peace. The Congo has not witnessed a non-violent transition of power since 1960. Peace in the country allows freedom to Teach Beyond. However, sometimes, the crisis is what grows faith the deepest and most quickly. Pray for the peace that passes understanding as the next few months may bring political unrest and uncertainty.