African Church Leaders’ Efforts for Electoral Truth, Justice “a noble fight”: A Reflection

An image depicting the intersection between Church and politics. The Church in Togo and Ivory Coast has been accused by the governments of being partial.

A week after the Catholic Church in Togo was denied an observer role in the upcoming presidential elections by the government, an African missionary serving in the West African country has termed as “a noble fight” efforts by the Church on the continent to pursue truth and justice during elections.

“Given the bloody electoral past of our countries, the Catholic Church would betray her divine mission if she refused to fulfill her task: to defend the right to life by defending the fundamental principles of truth and justice. The current fight carried out by the Church (in Togo) is a noble fight that deserves everyone's support,” Fr. Donald Zagore has said in a reflection sent to ACI Africa Wednesday, January 22.

In a letter dated January 16, Togo’s Minister of development, human rights and religious organizations rejected the December 26, 2019 request by the Episcopal Conference of Togo (CET) to be allowed to deploy its own 9,000  election observers on grounds that since August 2017, the Catholic Bishops took "clearly partisan positions" on the political situation in the country.

In Ivory Coast where a presidential election is set for October, Catholic Bishops recently called on the electoral commission to exercise total independence in exercising its mandate, a stand that has been criticized by a section of the government.

According to Zagore, a member of the Society of African Missions (SMA), the Church’s fight for truth and justice by calling for free, fair and transparent elections in both Togo and Ivory Coast has led to an atmosphere that “remains tense between political powers and the Church.”


“Strangely, in these two countries, the Catholic Church is accused by the powers in place of being in collusion with the opposition. She is even called the spokesperson for the opposition,” the Ivorian missionary ministering in Togo lamented.

While noting that “the political struggle of the Church goes beyond partisan considerations,” Fr. Zagore stressed, “The Catholic Church, in her political commitment, has a fundamental mission, which consists in defending without any ambiguity the principles of truth and justice, which are fundamental rights for all men and all peoples.”

In his considered opinion, while the Church in Africa needs to address the “the thorny issue of peaceful, credible, free and transparent elections,” it should so do with “zeal, professionalism and prophecy” because “the fight for truth and justice is not a fight to please everyone.” 

“It is time, especially for our African continent, that the right to peaceful, credible, free and transparent elections be part of basic human rights, protected by a legal framework which guarantees criminal sanctions,” Fr. Zagore said.

He added, “We can no longer and must no longer continue to sacrifice the lives of African populations for simple electoral reasons.”

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