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Bishops in Burkina Faso “take note of recent changes”, Invite Coup Leaders to Serve People

Members of the Episcopal Conference of Burkina-Niger (CEBN). Credit: Fr. Paul Dah

Catholic Bishops in Burkina Faso have, in a collective statement, expressed their awareness of the country’s recent political changes and called upon those who spearheaded the reported coup d’etat to be at the service of the people.

On Monday, January 24, Capt. Sidsoré Kader Ouedraogo who was flanked by some 13 military officers announced that Burkina Faso’s President, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, had been ousted “after steering a 36-hour uprising”, The Washington Post reported.

Following the January 24 incident, “Gunfire was heard overnight near the presidential palace and at barracks in the capital, Ouagadougou,” BBC reported, adding that the mutinying troops in Burkina Faso “have demanded the sacking of military chiefs and more resources to fight Islamist militants.”

In his televised address, Capt. Ouedraogo also announced the suspension of Burkina Faso’s Constitution, dissolution of the government, the closure of the country’s borders, and that President Kaboré and other politicians were being held in a safe place that “respects their dignity.”

In their Thursday, January 27 statement shared with ACI Africa, members of the Episcopal Conference of Burkina-Niger (CEBN) make reference to a meeting between religious leaders and the military leaders in Burkina Faso that had taken place the previous day.

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“Following the meeting, at the initiative of the current authorities of Burkina Faso, with various religious leaders on Wednesday, 26 January 2022, to give them the reasons for their action of 24 January 2021, we, the bishops of Burkina Faso, take note of the recent changes that have taken place,” CEBN members say.

They note that “such abrupt and unconstitutional changes are not without their problems.”

“If the security challenge is the first one that motivated these events, others also need to be addressed, notably the return of displaced persons to their homes, national reconciliation, economic challenges and many others that require the participation of all,” Catholic Bishops in Burkina Faso say in their January 27 statement signed by CEBN President, Bishop Laurent Birfuoré Dabiré.

They call on the new authority to “be at the service of the people and the welfare of the country.” 

Burkina Faso together with the other eight countries that constitute the Sahel region have endured a resurgence of violence from extremists, “much of it carried out by jihadists linked to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State,” the New York Times has reported.

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Known to have been one of West Africa’s most stable countries, Burkina Faso seems to have “been trapped in spiraling violence since jihadist groups claimed their first attacks, in 2015. Since then, the country has faced hundreds of attacks, some carried out by jihadist groups and others by local rebels,” the New York Times further indicated in the 5 June 2021 report.

In their January 27 collective statement, the Catholic Bishops in Burkina Faso call on the authorities to “guarantee the safety, physical integrity and dignity of those arrested.”

“The new authorities should bear in mind that they need to organize themselves properly in order to respond to the deep aspirations of our people,” the Catholic Bishops add.

They invite the people of God in Burkina Faso to “pray and ask God to enlighten us and to give us his Spirit of wisdom so that we can progress towards a definitive end to the crisis and a lasting peace.”

“May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace, and St. Joseph, Protector of the Universal Church, accompany with their powerful intercession our country in its quest for reconciliation, justice and true peace,” members of CEBN implore in their collective statement shared with ACI Africa.

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In a January 24 interview with ACI Africa, a Catholic Priest in Burkina Faso appealed for prayers for the West African nation amid the confirmed coup d’etat.

“Please Pray for our dear country. At this critical moment we can only turn to God for His guidance and help,” Fr. Etienne Tandamba told ACI Africa.

The Burkinabe Priest called on the people of God in the West African nation to remain “prudent and be on the alert.”