Pope sends top diplomat to Congo amid standoff with Kabila
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis is sending a top-level diplomat to the Holy See’s embassy in Congo after the Vatican was compelled to recall its ambassador earlier this year over clashes with the government of President Joseph Kabila.
Monsignor Ettore Balestrero is currently the Vatican’s ambassador to Colombia and had prior been the Vatican’s deputy foreign minister.
The Vatican said Friday he was being dispatched to Kinshasa to “settle” the affairs of the embassy, unusual diplomatic lingo that suggests the Congolese government hasn’t formally accepted the nomination.
Catholic activists have led nationwide demonstrations against Kabila’s extended rule. The Catholic Church oversaw the signing of an accord a year ago that set a date for a new election in the mineral-rich country, but the election has been repeatedly postponed.