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DRC urged to drop 'discriminatory' bill on 'Congoleseness'

A motorcyclist passes in front of the Parliament of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in Kinshasa on February 2, 2023   -  
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ALEXIS HUGUET/AFP or licensors

Democratic Republic Of Congo

From the first concerned to the Catholic bishops, through political parties and civil society associations, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, positions are being taken against a controversial bill on "congolity".

This bill, known as the "Tshiani law", named after its initiator Noël Tshiani, himself a candidate in the 2018 presidential elections,

Submitted to the National Assembly in July 2021, this text, considered "dangerous" by its detractors, was quickly dismissed, before returning to the public debate after the announcement in March that it would be included in the program for the current parliamentary session.

Feeling directly targeted by this bill, members of the Association of Mestizos in the Congo (Asmeco) demonstrated in front of the Parliament building and filed a memorandum on Friday, in which they expressed their opposition to this "discriminatory law".

This proposed law "on Congoleseness is unfair, ambiguous" and aims to "harm a category of Congolese", it is written in the text, consulted by AFP. In order to "preserve peace, harmony, tranquility and cohesion among Congolese", Asmeco urges elected officials to "reject" it.

Created in 2007, this association gathers Congolese born of Congolese and foreign parents (African, Asian, European, etc.), explained its president Ferdinand Lokunda.

The very influential Episcopal Conference, through its secretary general, Father Donatien Nshole, also denounced a "dangerous law" that "threatens social peace.

In several cities of the country, demonstrations against this law have been organized by political parties and civil society organizations.

If this law were to be adopted, businessman Moïse Katumbi, for example, a declared candidate in the presidential elections scheduled for December, would be excluded from the race, since his father was Italian.

Interviewed Monday by AFP, Mike Mukebay, provincial deputy of Kinshasa and communicator of Mr. Katumbi's party, thinks that this bill is "in reality a trap" of the power "to proceed to a constitutional revision with vague outlines".

With it, "we are forbidden to marry nationals of other nationalities, they want to pass the idea that the children of mixed marriages have a denatured blood. This is unacceptable," he also said.

In the recent history of the DRC, Congolese whose parents were not Congolese have held various positions of responsibility and have run for president.

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