KINSHASA, Congo (CNS) — Congo’s bishops asked President Joseph Kabila to contribute to the stability of the country by declaring that he will not be a candidate for the next presidential election.

In a statement Nov. 24 after a three-day meeting in the capital, the bishops reminded Kabila that he was the “guarantor of the constitution.” Although Congo’s constitution does not allow Kabila to run for a third term, many people fear he will try to do so.

The bishops also emphasized it was important not to delay elections any longer.

After a flare in political violence late last year, the bishops helped the government and opposition sign a Dec. 31 agreement that said Kabila would remain in office, but elections would be held before the end of 2017. Congo’s Independent National Electoral Commission recently announced elections would be held in December 2018.

The bishops urged the electoral commission to reassure the public of its independence and to operate with transparency.

In a Nov. 2 telephone interview from Kinshasa, Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, said widespread corruption is depleting government coffers.

“Questions being asked here are will Kabila relinquish power, and will the transfer of power be peaceful,” Bishop Cantu added.

In their November statement, Congo’s bishops reminded citizens that change could not happen without them. The bishops urged people to remain vigilant, actively participate in the electoral process and, if they objected to something, to protest peacefully.