Priests in Burundi prevented from electoral council service

Burundi’s Catholic bishops have withdrawn permission from priests to serve on the country’s electoral council.

In a statement a week before the parliamentary round of the national elections, the bishops explained that they had given a special dispensation for some priests to work with National Independent Electoral Council, but after careful analysis of the current situation, and citing canon law, they said they had decided to reverse their decision.

The electoral campaign has been marred by violence following the April announcement that President Pierre Nkurunziza will run for a third presidential term, despite Burundi’s constitution clearly stating that presidential terms can only be renewed once.

“After having considered the way in which these elections are organized, and current developments, and taking into account the mission of priests, which is to reconcile people and bring them together in unity”, the bishops’ statement said, “we have concluded that it would be better for the priests to resign and for the elections to be organised by others”.