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United Methodist bishop elected as senator in Congo

 

Bishop Ntambo Nkulu Ntanda has been elected to the Senate of the Democratic Republic of Congo. A UMNS photo by Billy Reeder. 

A UMNS Report by Linda Bloom*
Jan. 31, 2007

Bishop Ntambo Nkulu Ntanda, a United Methodist bishop in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has been elected to that country’s senate.

The new Senate is expected to be installed Feb. 3. Congo's Parliament has two chambers, the Senate and the National Assembly.

Ntambo, 59, has been bishop since 1996 and was active in the peace process in his region. He leads the denomination's North Katanga Area in the Congo and also serves as chancellor of United Methodist-related Africa University in Mutare, Zimbabwe.

In an e-mail message to United Methodist News Service, Ntambo confirmed his election by the provincial assembly of Katanga Province but said his main emphasis will continue to be on his pastoral and episcopal duties.

On Jan. 19, Congolese provincial deputies considered 1,127 candidates for the 108 seats for senator across the country. Four seats were allocated for each of the 25 provincial constituencies, with the remaining eight seats assigned to the city province of Kinshasa. Each senator has a "five-year renewable mandate," according to the All Africa news service.

The Independent Electoral Commission certified that the majority of the Senate seats - 58 out of 108 - went to candidates of the Alliance for the Presidential Majority, a coalition allied with President Joseph Kabila. The alliance, which won 332 of 500 seats in the National Assembly, is expected to control both chambers of Parliament.

According to the constitution, Parliament must meet in regular sessions twice a year.

The new U.N. secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, spoke about the political process in the Democratic Republic of Congo at a Jan. 27 press conference in Kinshasa.

Ban paid tribute to the success of that country's first multiparty democratic elections in more than 40 years and said the international community "is committed to supporting the DRC" in its post-electoral process, All Africa reported.

The United Nations helped organize those elections, which came after a six-year civil war that claimed an estimated 4 million lives, either by fighting or by hunger and disease. Kabila, who first became president of the Democratic Republic of Congo in January 2001 after his father, Laurent Kabila, was assassinated, was confirmed as that country's first democratically elected president on Nov. 27, 2006.

Ntambo's first term as bishop occurred as the civil war began. In 2004, he moderated a peace conference in North Katanga where 250 fighters committed not to fight again. The peace conference was funded by United Methodist donations, including a grant from the United Methodist Committee on Relief.

The bishop attended seminary for four years in Mulungwishi and has a master of divinity degree from Nairobi International School of Theology in Nairobi, Kenya. He has held various denominational positions in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has more than a million official church members. He and his wife, Nshimba Nkulu, have eight children.

*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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Resources

North Katanga Conference

Africa University

UMCOR: Congo

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