The Catholic bishops of the Central African Republic (CAR) have issued a four-page appeal, asking for free and transparent elections and a permanent solution to internal armed conflict.
The eight bishops released their statement on January 12, following six days of meetings in times of political crisis in the country.
“At the start of this election year, the concerns of our fellow citizens are real,” the bishops state. “Even though efforts have been made to reduce violence, we live in an atmosphere of insecurity, fear and anxiety.”
The bishops underscore the mistaken tendency to resort to armed conflict as a preferred means for resolving disputes, pointing to “recent dramatic events,” in reference to a January 9 armed skirmish in Alindao, 5 km from the nation’s capital, which left some 30 dead.
“Who benefits from the flourishing war business in the Central African Republic?” the bishops ask.
“We appreciate the efforts of the Government to restructure the Internal Security Forces (ISF) and the Central African Armed Forces (FACA),” the bishops note. “But since the solution to the armed conflict in the Central African Republic is not only military, we wonder: how long must we wait for quality training and the massive integration of teachers, professors, nurses and doctors?”
In their message, the bishops also appeal to Christian communities, urging them to “exercise your civic duties by going to vote during the next electoral elections, by fighting against favoritism, tribalism, intolerance between ethnic and political groups, corruption and the spirit of political manipulation.”
The bishops also issued a series of recommendation to government officials, appealing for respect for the “constitutional framework of the elections” and asking for the organization of “free and transparent elections within the constitutional deadline that meet the democratic requirements of the rule of law.”
They also urge officials to “return to the table of discussions with the armed groups to find consensual and peaceful solutions to your differences or misunderstandings.”
The presidential elections in the country are scheduled for December 27, 2020, with a runoff possible on February 23, 2021.