AFRICA/BURUNDI - "The vote, the only way to get an alternation in power" write the Bishops

Monday, 23 September 2019 bishops   elections   violence  

Bujumbura (Agenzia Fides) - "We appreciate the fact that many of our fellow citizens have understood that the elections are the only way to obtain an alternation in power", say the Bishops of Burundi in the message read during yesterday's masses, Sunday 22 September, focused on the presidential and legislative elections of 20 May 2020.
In the document, sent to Fides, after recalling the peace and reconciliation agreement with which "the Burundians are committed to breaking the spirit of division on which dictatorial and oppressive power is founded", the Bishops stress that "the greater part of the population has understood that, in case of conflict, dialogue is the privileged way to solve it".
Burundi has been experiencing for years a profound political, institutional, social and economic crisis, which has driven hundreds of thousands of Burundians to take refuge in neighboring countries, after President Pierre Nkurunziza in 2015 obtained a third term in contempt of the old Constitutional Charter and of the Arusha Peace Accords of 2000.
In the message the Bishops express their appreciation for the commitment of the members of the various parties in preparing the vote, "even if there are some problems".
"Although there are several things we appreciate, we cannot but highlight some issues that worry and disturb most Burundians", the message states. First of all, the violence against members of certain political parties, despite the fact that multi-party politics is recognized by the Constitution. "In some regions - the declaration denounces - criminal acts with a political background, including murders are committed. In most cases, the victims are those who have opinions other than those of the government".
The Bishops also recall the numerous Burundians who fled abroad. "It would be a good thing if elections were held after their repatriation, in a voluntary manner and without constraints", they say. The statement concludes by addressing Christians, many of whom are involved in Catholic Action movements and apostolate groups, asking them to give testimony of their faith, because "by virtue of Baptism you have become new creatures", and therefore act as "apostles of peace". (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 23/9/2019)