N’Djamena (Agenzia Fides) - “We need a referendum to change the constitution” the Catholic Bishops of Chad said in a statement issued at the end of their recent Plenary Meeting and sent to Fides.
On 30 April Chad’s National Assembly will vote to adopt a plan to reform the Constitution boycotted by the Opposition but approved by the government on 10 April. Controversial issues include the extension of the presidential mandate from 5 to 6 years and the extension of the powers of the head of state. According to the Opposition the new Constitution serves mainly to render perpetual the power of President Idriss Déby Itno. The latter however affirms that the creation of a Fourth Republic will enable the country to tackle its problems.
The Bishops express concern about the "process followed to establish the Fourth Republic of Chad. This process, as many people fear, threatens to seriously falsify the rules of democracy, since it spread the germ of division among the citizens”.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Chad agrees with those who affirm that the theme of the Fourth Republic was not at all debated by the citizens: “Besides divergences in the political class ,we see the majority of the people fail to realise what is happening . Such a fundamental change should be made with respect for the Constitution which at Article. 224 states “the revision of the Constitution is approved by a referendum”."
The Bishops say they are not in favour of Diya, reparation for bloody crimes prescribed by Sharia law, because “it compromises social peace, undermines efforts to restore Rule of Law and ruins community economy”. This is why the bishops urge the competent authorities not to impose this practice in a community where it is not tradition and even in communities where it is practiced, its application must be strictly regulated”. The Bishops call for the reinforcement of the national judicial system and the abolishment of inter-community accords for the application of Diya “because those accords have caused tension between the communities”.
“Work for peace while not forgetting the people” conclude the Bishops in an address to the country’s political, administrative, social and religious leaders. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 26/4/2018)