Pope Francis: “Hands off the Democratic Republic of the Congo, hands off Africa”


An article from Pagina12 (translation by CPNN)

Pope Francis denounced on Tuesday “the economic colonialism” that loots the resources of Africa, shortly after arriving in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). It is the first leg of an African tour.”Hands off the Democratic Republic of the Congo, hands off Africa. Stop suffocating it. Africa is not a mine to be exploited or a land to be plundered”.

frame from video of Pope’s visit

“May Africa be the protagonist of its own destiny,” Francis proclaimed before the authorities and the country’s diplomatic corps. In a speech at the presidential palace in Kinshasa, the Pope stated that the country’s history has been torpedoed by conflicts but also by the domination of foreign interests. “After political colonialism, an equally enslaving ‘economic colonialism’ has been unleashed. Thus, this country, abundantly pillaged, is not able to benefit sufficiently from its immense resources,” said the 86-year-old pontiff.

“The poison of greed has bloodied its diamonds. It is a drama to which the most economically advanced world often closes its eyes, ears and mouths. However, this country and this continent deserve to be respected and listened to,” added the Argentine Pope in his applauded speech.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, a huge central African country that gained independence from Belgium in 1960, has huge mineral reserves, but is one of the poorest countries on the planet.

About two-thirds of the population lives on less than $2.15 a day, according to the World Bank. Likewise, the east of the country has been devastated by armed conflicts. For this reason, Francis encouraged peace efforts, stressing that “we cannot get used to the blood that has flowed in this country for decades.”

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He also stressed the importance of having “free, transparent and credible elections” in a country that plans presidential elections on December 20. “We must not allow ourselves to be manipulated or bought by those who want to keep the country in violence, to exploit it and do shameful business,” Francisco added. Sitting next to him was Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi, who came to power in 2018 in a highly disputed election.

Banners and chants

Joy overflowed the streets of the capital, Kinshasa, where Pope Francis arrived, who was received with banners, songs and in the midst of a strong security device.

“The Pope is here, no more useless fights. This is the support that the country was waiting for to be better served by the international community. We are happy,” Aime Mboyo, one of the hundreds of thousands of fervent Catholics and religious who rushed to receive the pontiff.

At Kinshasa’s Ndjili International Airport – where he was received by the Congolese Prime Minister, Sama Lukonde – and along Lumumba Boulevard, one of the main arteries of the city that Francis traveled in the popemobile, the faithful vibrated by waving their banners and palms. “We are a country of peace and hospitality. The Pope is at home and he can stay here if he wants to,” said Angélique Mutombo, an old woman waving a handkerchief with her hands from the Limete neighborhood in the northeast of the capital. the image of the pontiff.

In addition to the faithful, a strong security device made up of thousands of agents was activated this Tuesday in the capital. Large portraits of the Pope hung on billboards and banners with a welcoming message, such as “Welcome to our home”, were the accessories in the shower of crowds that accompanied Francis as he walked down the avenue on his way to the Palace of the Nation, where he would meet with President Tshisekedi.

“We deployed 7,500 members of the Congolese National Police to guarantee good security for this great guest in the country,” said General Sylvain Kasongo, the police officer in Kinshasa.

(Editor’s note: According to CNN , “on Friday the pope leaves Kinshasa for South Sudan’s capital, Juba, where he’ll be joined by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Iain Greenshields. “This will be a historic visit,” Welby said. “After centuries of division, leaders of three different parts of (Christianity) are coming together in an unprecedented way.”)