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Catholic Bishops in Angola Appeal for "transparency, honesty" in Election Preparations

Some members of the Bishops Conference of Angola and São Tomé (CEAST). Credit: Radio Ecclesia

Catholic Bishops in Angola are appealing for truth, justice and transparency in the organization of the general elections scheduled for August this year.

Addressing journalists Tuesday, February 1, the President of the Bishops Conference of Angola and São Tomé (CEAST) said, “The year 2022 is the year of elections for the consolidation of our still young and weak democracy although already with some history in time.”

“A strengthened democracy, by its nature, undoubtedly contributes to the affirmation of human dignity, the strengthening of justice, peace and well-being among citizens,” Archbishop José Manuel Imbamba told journalists at the opening of the first Ordinary Plenary Assembly of CEAST taking place in Angola’s Benguela Diocese.

Archbishop Imbamba added, “The elections will go the way we want if they are well prepared in truth, transparency, honesty and justice.”

He noted that the Southern African nation “awaits the general elections with expectation”, adding that “unemployment and the poverty situation in Angola are issues that need to be addressed urgently.”

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Eligible voters in Angola are expected to take part in elections in mid-August to establish a new Parliament and President of the Republic. 

Incumbent João Lourenço of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) party is seeking a second term. He has been at the helm of the country since 2017 when he succeeded José Eduardo Dos Santos who had been in power for nearly four decades. 

President Lourenço faces opposition from the presidential candidate of a new coalition, the United Patriotic Front. 

On Monday, January 31, the Angolan President reassured voters that the general elections will be peaceful despite growing political unrest in Africa’s second-biggest oil producer.

Addressing journalists February 1, Archbishop Imbamba called for a “high sense of responsibility” among stakeholders involved in the electoral process.

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“I appeal to all citizens, religious leaders, politicians and members of the civil society to a high sense of responsibility, so I renew the invitation to all to participate in the elections, as it is a civic duty,” the Angolan Archbishop said. 

He went on to encourage Catholics in the country to avoid absenteeism saying, “everyone should have or renew their voter's card.” 

For the success of the polls, the Local Ordinary of Angola’s Saurimo Archdiocese said, “It is necessary to invest, once again and with patience, in the civic education of citizens.”

“We all have the right to promote values such as good coexistence, tolerance, fraternity, love of neighbor, respect for the opinion of others, permanent openness to dialogue, brotherhood, peace, above all the nation, citizenship and well-being for all,” he said.

Reflecting on campaigns ahead of the August polls, Archbishop Imbamba said, “The electoral campaigns will only be successful if it is based on mutual respect and if all the recognized parties have the right and the opportunity to express their ideas.”

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The Catholic Archbishop cautioned against “hate speech and many other horrors hostile to healthy coexistence" during the political campaign. 

He emphasized the need for political actors to “read the signs of the times and interpret them in the light of wisdom and humility.”

The lack of dialogue, Archbishop Imbamba continued, "further increases levels of anxiety, radicalism, intolerance, indiscipline, physical, verbal, moral and psychological violence.”

“Without excesses and blind fanaticism, which generate the climate of crispness, feuds, fear, uncertainty and lack of confidence in the future, let us be builders of bridges and not walls of separation,” the President of CEAST said.

He added, “Let us render our intelligences not to machinate evil, hatred, intrigue, slander, exclusion.”

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“For Angola we must all sit down to listen to each other; for Angola we must all strip away our differences to have the only garment that is Angola, our homeland that we love so much and that we want to see shine,” Archbishop Imbamba said.

In their weeklong Plenary Assembly scheduled to conclude February 7, CEAST members are expected to examine the pastoral life of the Catholic Church in Angola and the country's socio-political and economic situation.  

Remarking on the decision to focus on children during the first year of the triennium, the Archbishop of Saurimo said the period provides an opportunity for deep reflection on the prime place of a child in the Church and society.

“The child is in fact the guarantee of the future of the church and of any nation, so the care for the child represents an absolute priority, which is also why the pastoral care of children is one of the most important things in the church” he said.

Archbishop Imbamba highlighted some challenges children face saying, “Poverty, lack of medical assistance, lack of schools, abuses, hunger and malnutrition are some of the difficulties that threaten the identity and dignity of children and compromise the future of society.”