Pope Francis will not visit the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) until a presidential election is held, said the top ecclesiastical diplomat in the country on Wednesday.
An election is supposed to take place at the end of the year but President Joseph Kabila has yet to set a date.
“The pope wanted to come. The Holy See has made clear to the Congolese authorities that it is in favor of the elections which are established by its constitution," said Apostolic Nuncio in Democratic republic of Congo Bishop Luis Mariano Montemayor in an interview with UN radio in DRC.
"When there is an election, we will be sure that there will be conditions for a pacification of the country. Before that, there is a danger of manipulation and exploitation of the Holy Father's visit. Either to support the continuation of an illegitimate government. Either for those who hope to expel the regime according to the popular movements," he added.
When Kabila's term in office expired last December, he refused to hold elections, saying that the majority of Congolese, especially young people, had not registered to vote.
Dozens of people were killed in riots that erupted over Kabila's decision. In Catholic bishop-brokered peace talks between the opposition and government, it was agreed that Kabila would stay in power and elections be held by the end of this year.
According to the DRC constitution, Kabila cannot again run for office because he has served two terms.
Pope Francis was supposed to visit the DRC in this past summer but he canceled the trip on March 13.
Catholics make up 50 percent of the DRC population.