Catholic church in Burundi challenges leaders to forge dialogue

The bishops in a group photo

The bishops in a group photo

Burundi Roman Catholic Bishops Council has once again called for an inclusive dialogue in a bid for leaders in the central African nation to find a durable solution to the five month conflict.

In a statement read in Roman Catholic churches and organizations across the country Sunday, the bishops appealed to all Burundians to refrain from anything that would lead the country to war.

“Though the electoral process is over now and institutions established, the country is still faced with mounting insecurity, especially in the capital Bujumbura where people are savagely assassinated, others kidnapped and found dead,” the bishops’ statement read in part adding that “arbitrary arrests and torture, lootings, youths affiliated to political parties who are misled and induced in various criminal acts” constitute a threat to peace and stability.

In their message, the Roman Catholic Bishops Council regretted that many of the donors have been pulling out due to the crisis.

They also expressed their concerns over some social media that has been disseminating “incendiary” news or wrong information that ignites hatred “All this due to the absence of legitimate independent outlets destroyed and shut, and not allowed to reopen,” the religious leaders’ statement adds.

The bishops say recent electoral process has divided the nation and created instability, warning that the country is now threatened by severe poverty, ethnic and religious tensions.

“If we do not be watchful, our country is growing more and more familiar to assassinations and permanent fear of war,” they said.

The council invited Burundians of political stripes and the general public to the negotiating table and talk through their differences.

In the lengthy and critical statement, the bishops said “as Burundians, we should not be ashamed to accept that we are in crisis. We should instead recognize it and accept to sit together so as we can discuss all our problems and find out appropriate solutions.”

The Catholic Church leaders opined that only dialogue will allow Burundians to reach durable peace and stability and challenged political leaders to put aside their personal interests and forge peace and stability.

“If political opponents think they are right in their claims, why should some fear to sit with others? All politicians should refrain from everlasting disputes and sit together with others so as to allow citizens recover their stability,” they urged.

The Roman Catholic Church in Burundi pulled out of the recent electoral process, alleging that it was not free and fair.

The church ordered all its priests to withdraw from all election-related preparations as heads of Independent Provincial and Communal electoral commissions in the run up to the legislative polls.

The largest church in the country argued then that their decision was based on the fact that the prevailing conditions were not permissive for a free and fair electoral process.
The church has since been at loggerheads with ruling party CNDD-FDD and the government.