Development and Peace and Canada’s Catholic Bishops Send Election Observers to the Democratic Republic of the CongoMonday, July 17 2006
TORONTO / July 18, 2006 — Development and Peace and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) are sending a five-member delegation to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to observe country-wide elections scheduled there for July 30, 2006.
The observation team will work with other international organizations from July 21 to August 5, 2006 to help ensure that the elections are conducted fairly.
The delegation consists of two members of the Development and Peace National Council and three staff members. The National Council members are Most Rev. Luc Cyr, Bishop of Valleyfield, Québec, representing the CCCB, and Claude Berthiaume, a city councilor from the municipality of Greater Sudbury, Ontario. The staff members are Sylvie Bélanger, Serge Blais and Julie Perreault.
The Development and Peace delegation will begin its work in Lubumbashi, in Katanga Province, a region devastated by war and inhabited by tens of thousands of internally displaced people. The area is also an important mining zone; several Canadian companies have operations there.
During a visit to Canada last April, Most Rev. Fulgence Muteba, Bishop of the Congolese Diocese of Kilwa-Kasenga, said that the Congolese people believe the presence of Canadian election observers will help to provide additional guarantees for a democratic vote.
Development and Peace and its Congolese partners have been supporting the democratization process in the DRC since 2001 via a program financed by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
The program includes nation-wide civic education work and electoral education projects to prepare the Congolese people for their first free and democratic elections in 40 years.
The most ambitious of these projects is run by the Congo’s National Episcopal Conference. Called CARTEC (Coordination for a Successful Transition), it has trained 50,000 volunteers across the country in techniques to increase public awareness about the electoral process.
During the past few years the cccb has established special links with the Congolese Catholic Church. Besides providing financial assistance for pastoral projects, the CCCB has supported requests by the Congo’s National Episcopal Conference that the Canadian government support the democratization process in the African country.
Development and Peace is the official international development organization of the Catholic Church in Canada and the Canadian member of Caritas Internationalis. Last year, Development and Peace provided $18.4 million to support 309 long-term development projects and 72 emergency relief projects in the Global South.
The CCCB enables the Bishops of Canada to collaborate in various pastoral duties while respecting the autonomy of each Bishop in the service of his diocesan Church. Through the active participation of its members, the CCCB undertakes projects and activities at the national and international levels, and provides a forum for the Bishops to exchange views on their ministry, on the life of the Church, and on the major issues of the day.
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