The Bishops Conference of the Ivory Coast warn of growing social tensions and appeal for peace in their message published at the end of their 113th Plenary Assembly in Agboville today.
They say in the document: "It must be recognised that, as the October 2020 elections approach, there is a climate of widespread fear among the population; fear linked to the reality of recurrent inter-community conflicts, problems of insecurity, land tenure, illegal occupation of forests, illegal gold mines and problems linked to Ivorian identity."
Addressing the faithful, the Bishops affirm: "we are with you in deploring the desolate show of recent times, we also want to exorcise the old demons of hatred and division with you all."
"We take this opportunity to express our spiritual closeness and our compassion for families who have lost loved ones and their property. And to all the actors of socio-political life, we are launching this heartfelt cry, which is also that of the population: avoid us another war."
"After more than two decades of serious crises that have sadly marked the history of the Ivory Coast, the responsibility of all those who hold authority - whatever their level - is to do everything possible for reconciliation and social cohesion, to prevent crises and consolidate peace."
"In this regard, we, Archbishops and Bishops of the Ivory Coast, ask the government to continue and complete the disarmament process, because weapons continue to circulate in our Country and it is no secret to anyone. In fact, in any inter-community conflict, weapons and weapons of war are regularly and professionally used. In the face of this state of affairs, once again, and in the name of the right to life, we ask you to avoid us another war!"
At the start of the meeting, Mgr Ignace Bessi Dogbo, Bishop of Katiola and President of the Bishops' Conference of the Ivory Coast, encouraged all those involved in politics, "to do everything possible to pacify the socio-political environment, avoiding any verbal violence."
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