BURUNDI: Church vows to stand with the People in Country’s Crisis

BUJUMBURA, AUGUST 14, 2015 (CISA) – The Catholic Church in Burundi has vowed to continue standing with the people amid the ongoing political crisis.

“Despite the difficulties, we will continue to support the people, to denounce violence and invite all parties to peace and the respect of human rights,” said Fr Lambert Niciteretse, the Secretary General of the Bishops’ Conference of Burundi.

“The Church continues to pursue her mission, expounding the principles of her social doctrine even when this does not meet with the favour of the politicians. The truth must be proclaimed and irregularities must be denounced,” added Fr Niciteretse.

Fr Niciteretse was speaking to International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need about the August 5 murder of General Adolph Nshimirimana, close ally of Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza, reported ZENIT.

“We have no idea how this grave crime will affect the already difficult situation in our country. But undoubtedly this killing will have serious consequences,” said the priest.

General Nshimirimana, the former head of the secret services, was in charge of security for the president as well as chief of the presidential guard.

Unrest began in April after President Nkurunziza announced his bid for a third term in violation of the two five-year presidential terms limit imposed by the country’s constitution and the 2000 Arusha Peace Accords.

At least 94 people have been killed since the crisis began according to UN.

The country’s Catholic Church immediately condemned the illegal nature of the president’s candidacy and in May ahead of the legislative elections withdrew its representatives from the Independent National Electoral Commission.

“The Catholic Church cannot allow herself to be part of an electoral process that is visibly not consensual and contains legal defects,” Burundi’s bishops wrote at the time in a formal statement.

Due to the crisis tens of thousands have fled to Tanzania, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, with the number of refugees according to the local church expected reach as many as 200,000 by Christmas time.

“In addition to the great pain we are feeling because of the political crisis, we are grieving for our brothers and sisters who have been forced to flee,” Fr Niciteretse said.

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