The Catholic bishops of Burundi have called for the country’s elections in June to be postponed as violence broke out on the streets of the capital.
Church leaders in Burundi have said that they will ask Catholics to leave the country’s electoral commission if President Pierre Nkurunziza seeks a third term in office in a move which would violate the country’s constitution.
Bishop Gervais Banshimiyubusa, the head of the Conference of Catholic Bishops in Burundi, said in a statement: “Let’s use dialogue and consultation and stop using violent means. The method, which so far has been beneficial to us, has been that of people in conflict sitting together to dialogue and consult.
“Instead of sticking to this path of confrontation which mostly leads to loss of lives, our leaders and all other protagonists should embrace dialogue and consultation.”
Catholics make up roughly two-thirds of Burundi’s seven million population and yield significant political influence.
Since the end of April when President Nkurunziza announced his first term, opposition parties and civil society groups have been organising protests against a third term bid by the incumbent president.
Violence has now broken out in the capital of Bujumbura following confusion after an attempted coup, culminating in police opening fire on opposition protestors.
The coup was announced by Major Gen Godefroid Niyombare, a former intelligence chief, after Mr Nkurunziza left for regional talks in Tanzania yesterday. In a radio broadcast Major Gen Godefroid Niyombare said: “The masses vigorously and tenaciously reject President Nkurunziza’s third-term mandate. President Pierre Nkurunziza has been relieved of his duties. The government is overthrown.”
But the presidency said that the coup was “imaginary.”
Having been unable to sell in churches for well over a year due to the pandemic, we are now inviting readers to support the Herald by investing in our future. We have been a bold and influential voice in the church since 1888, standing up for traditional Catholic culture and values.
Please join us on our 130 year mission by supporting us. We are raising £250,000 to safeguard the Herald as a world-leading voice in Catholic journalism and teaching. For more information from our chairman on contributing to the Herald Patron's Fund, click here
Make a Donation
Donors giving £500 or more will automatically become sponsor patrons of the Herald. This includes two complimentary print/digital gift subscriptions, invitations to Patron events, pilgrimages and dinners, and 6 gift subscriptions sent to priests, seminaries, Catholic schools, religious care homes and prison and university chaplaincies. Click here for more information on becoming a Patron Sponsor. Click here for more information about contributing to the Herald Patron's Fund