BURUNDI: Catholic Church to Abstain from Elections


BUJUMBURA, MAY 29 2015 (CISA) – The Catholic Church in Burundi has withdrawn its support for the presidential elections that are scheduled for 26 June.

“After taking into account the way in which the elections are organized, we Bishops of the Catholic Church believe that priests have to resign and give way to those who can continue the work,” said Bishop Gervais Bashimiyubusa, of Ngozi.

In a statement, Bishop Gervais who doubles up as President of the Episcopal Conference of Burundi, said, “We cannot make ourselves guarantors of elections full of gaps.”

Several Catholic priests in Burundi occupy important positions in the provincial and municipal election commissions of the Country and they will have to step aside and not participate in the electoral process.

According to Agenzia Fides, it is not clear whether the elections will take place in Burundi as had been scheduled.

The situation in Burundi in the past month has been characterised by clashes between civilians and police, leaving at least 30 people dead, scores injured, thousands of refugees having fled to neighbouring countries, and a failed coup attempt.

The clashes were sparked by the President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid to run for office a third term, in violation of the Arusha Accords signed to end the 13 year civil war in 2006,and the national Constitution that allows a president only two terms in office.

According to local sources, the opposition side, Burundian civil society, African and international institutions have said that it is not possible to hold elections under the current conditions in the country.

The Church though, has not asked its faithful to abstain from voting, when the time comes.

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