, 16 June, 2020 / 8:18 PM
Bishops in Burkina Faso have, in a collective statement at the end of their Plenary Assembly, raised concerns about rising cases of insecurity in the West African country saying the situation is “more worrying than ever” and called on relevant authorities to act ahead of elections scheduled for later this year.
In their statement following the June 9-13 Plenary Assembly, the members of the Episcopal Conference of Burkina-Niger (CEBN) are concerned that the situation of insecurity is preventing Clerics from reaching the faithful.
“For the Pastors in this part of Burkina Faso as elsewhere in the regions ... it is a great suffering to no longer be able to reach the faithful in some places, or to see them fleeing from terrorist attacks without any guarantee of security,” they lament.
The members of CEBN note that the prevailing security situation in the country is “more worrying than ever with its share of displaced persons, such that Sahelians are no longer certain of the future of their native Sahel.”
In view of the general elections expected to take place on November 22, the Bishops say that the “ideal” situation would be “to organize these elections throughout the national territory and to ensure the full participation of all populations wherever they are in order to guarantee the elected President full legitimacy and give all provinces representation in the National Assembly.”
However, the members of CEBN note, the challenge of insecurity in the country stands in the way of a credible election in which all eligible Burkinabe voters will participate.
“The question then arises as to how to meet this important challenge through an effective security of the electoral process and taking into account internally displaced persons in their particular situation,” the Bishops in Burkina Faso probe in their June 12 statement.
They add, “Despite the thorny questions that require appropriate and reassuring answers, holding the elections at this time is a great challenge: to avoid adding an institutional crisis to the already worrying security crisis.”
Burkina Faso, which is part of the Sahel region has been struggling with a wave of militant attacks since 2016.
Reviewing the situation of Africa in 2019, the head of the International Catholic pastoral charitable organization, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) took note of the West African countries of Nigeria and Burkina Faso, describing the year as having had a significantly high record of attacks targeting Christians across the globe.
In their June 12 collective statement, the Bishops in Burkina Faso say that with the insecurity in the country, “it is the political and institutional stability of our country that is at stake, as is already its territorial integrity.”
“It is a challenge to be met at all costs; it is a challenge for the entire nation and we must pool our energies,” they say and add, “It is possible! The solidarity generated at all levels by the Covid-19 pandemic bears witness to this!”
They appeal to the authorities in the county for a more vigorous and rigorous management of the situation underscoring the place of the country’s security personnel.
“The role of the Defense and Security Forces remains paramount,” the Catholic Church leaders say, adding that the security agencies in the country “must produce and guarantee a secure environment conducive to the conduct of the electoral process with the full participation of all citizens.”
“May Mary, Queen of Peace, accompany us on the path to true peace, a gift of God and the fruit of human efforts,” they conclude.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa