The Democratic Republic of the Congo continues to work for peace and stability after years of violent conflict. Though the rebel group M23 officially surrendered in 2013, many other armed groups, including the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), as well as the Congolese army carry on fighting a complex battle over resources, land and identity. The fighting has also caused widespread destruction of land and livelihoods, displacing nearly 2.7 million people, according to the United Nations.
Widespread attention this year has been given to the upcoming November 2016 elections. The current president, Joseph Kabila, came to power in 2001 when his father was assassinated. Kabila was re-elected in 2006 and 2011, and there is some controversy over whether or not he will try to change the two-term constitutional limit and maintain power by postponing elections. The U.S. government has consistently voiced that Kabila should step down and allow a peaceful transfer of power to take place.
In November 2015 our office helped to host a delegation that visited the U.S. to talk with policymakers and other supporting organizations about ensuring a peaceful and stabilizing election process. The delegation, representing the Church of Christ in Congo, spoke about the pivotal role faith communities and civil society play in democratic change. They advocated that education for citizens is as essential as the changing political actors in the democratic process. MCC will continue to work with these partners in 2016 as the election process unfolds. —Katherine Crosby