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Friday, 13 October, 2000, 09:44 GMT 10:44 UK
Bishop's burial highlights Congo's crisis
Funeral of Archbishop Emmanuel Kataliko
The archbishop was a hero among his parishoners
By Chris Simpson in Bukavu

The funeral of Emmanuel Kataliko in rebel-held eastern Democratic Republic of Congo was never going to be a quiet, low-key affair.

The Archbishop of Bukavu had spent seven months away from his cathedral, banned by a rebel administration which had branded him a renegade and trouble-maker.

He had returned to a hero's reception in September, but died in Italy just three weeks later.

As anticipated, the mourners came in their thousands, looking both to honour their archbishop and express their hostility to the rebel Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD) and its Rwandan allies.

Mourners at the funeral of Archbishop Emmanuel Kataliko
Some mourners carried banners expressing their grievances
Reports of Bishop Kataliko's death had triggered a spate of protests in Bukavu, where anti-rebel feelings have always been high.

Rumours rapidly spread that he had been poisoned by his enemies.

A 14-year-old youth was shot dead, allegedly by a Rwandan soldier on the day the news broke.

Retaliation

As the bishop's body was driven back from the airport on Sunday, stones were thrown at the Governor of South Kivu, Norbert Basengezi Katintima, forcing his vehicle out of the cortege.


On the eve of the funeral, at least 12 civil society activists were arrested after soldiers broke up their meeting.

Mr Katintima promised to "parade on television, showing they are accomplices of the enemy".

All were set free, but their treatment at the hands of the security forces drew strong criticism from international human rights groups.

Security

Anxious to avoid a further stand-off, the Church persuaded students and scouts to guarantee security at the funeral.

Mourners at the funeral of Archbishop Emmanuel Kataliko
The church policed the crowd to avoid escalating tension
It was they who policed the crowd, while dozens of Rwandan soldiers stood at the periphery looking distinctly uncomfortable.

The Church's request for a peaceful dignified ceremony were by and large heeded.

But as the service drew to a close, sections of the crowd became increasingly vociferous, the tributes to Kataliko overshadowed by diatribes against the RCD, the Rwandan government and the United States.

Protests

There were banners denouncing Rwanda's presence in Congo.

Others proclaimed: "peace for our neighbours means Congolese blood being shed" and "it is better to die than to hide the truth".

The RCD's delegation was headed by a Congolese Tutsi, Bizima Karaha, the rebel movement's Head of Security.

Mourners at the funeral of Archbishop Emmanuel Kataliko
There was less violence than had been feared
As Mr Karaha made his way down to view the coffin, stones were thrown and people started singing "Tutsis go home, you¿re only here to kill us".

But there were no serious security incidents.

According to the Vicar-General of Bukavu, Joseph Gwahamuhanya, the funeral was "not perfect", but much better than he had feared.

Tension

Mr Gwahamuhanya described Bishop Kataliko as "a priest who was very close to his community, who understood its distress, who was willing to act as its guide and spokesman".

He said Bishop Kataliko had returned to Bukavu in September committed to peace and reconciliation, but admitted that the archbishop's death "had revived a lot of the bitterness and tension in Bukavu", which the Church would now try to defuse.

Enoc Ruberangabo, a spokesman for the Congolese Tutsi population in South Kivu, the Banyamulenge, said Bishop Kataliko's death had left his community more vulnerable than ever.

The coffin of Archbishop Emmanuel Kataliko
Laid to rest: a turbulent priest
"The news of his death came at 11 in the morning and by midday there was already a campaign of hatred against us," he said.

"It was impossible for Banyamulenge Catholics to pay their respects.

"Our children were chased from their schools. Houses and vehicles were burned. We have spent most of the past week indoors".

RCD optimistic

RCD representative Bizima Karaha played down the problems.

"There is a small minority here which has bought into the genocidal ideology imported from Rwanda," he acknowledged.

"But the vast majority of the population does not feel like that.

"We are not anticipating fresh problems in Bukavu.

"I think the people in the administration, the churches, the civil society, the student movements, they are all ready to work together so there can be peace, security and stability in Bukavu".

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See also:

04 Oct 00 | Africa
Congolese bishop dies
16 Feb 00 | Africa
Pope defends Congo bishop
15 Sep 00 | Africa
Exiled Congo bishop returns home
03 Oct 00 | Africa
Congo abuses 'common'
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