Catholic Priests in West Africa Decry Election “wounds of division” in Sub-Saharan Africa

Members of the Regional Union of the Diocesan Priests of West Africa (RUPWA). Credit: Fr. Peter Konteh

Members of the Regional Union of the Diocesan Priests of West Africa (RUPWA) have decried “the wounds of division and conflict” that have usually emerged during the electioneering periods in various countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

In a statement issued at the end of their June 5-12 congress, the Diocesan Priests from the member nations of the Regional Episcopal Conference of West Africa (RECOWA) say, “With its rich diversity and immense potential, Sub-Saharan Africa has had its share of challenges and opportunities relating to elections and political transitions.”

“The wounds of division and conflict often emerge during these times, and it is at these critical times that our prophetic role as Catholic Priests becomes all the more essential,” RUPWA members say in their June 11 statement. 

They underscore the need to respect electoral processes, saying polls present the electorate with the opportunity to exercise their civic responsibilities, express their opinions and collectively determine the future of their respective countries.

The Diocesan Priests in the West African countries call upon the Heads of State and governments in Sub-Saharan Africa to respect the independence of electoral bodies, adding that such independence fosters the democratic rights of citizens.


They also urge the Heads of State and governments "to have respect for the constitutional law, civil society and for religious freedom,” adding that such respect can go a long way in addressing election-related challenges.

Everyone has a role to play in addressing the challenges occasioned by general elections in Sub-Saharan Africa, RUPWA members says in the statement following their Congress that was organized under the theme, “Elections in Sub-Saharan Africa: The prophetic Role of Priests as Agents of Peace and Reconciliation”.

They say that Bishops can help by being responsive to the situation of the citizens, and having the courage to speak in good time.

The Laity, on their part, need to be cautious about “religious, ethnic and political manipulation," the Catholic Priests say in the statement that was signed by RUPWA President and Executive Secretary, Fr. Martin Onukwuba, and Fr. Bruno Toupan, respectively.

They highlight some of the election-related challenges in West Africa, including insecurity, constitutional, structural, religious, moral, socio-political and environmental, and urge the Laity to maintain "their Christian identity and dignity." 

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The Diocesan Priests in West Africa express their commitment to promoting their Priestly identity, going beyond ethnic and regional considerations as well as striving “to be good and attentive pastors to the miseries of our people.”

They also pledge “to be bearers of the message of Christ: message of love and truth, justice and peace, reconciliation and forgiveness; to strengthen unity and impartiality; and to intensify our exercises of piety.”

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.