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Guinea-Bissau bishops reject military coup, pray for return of peace

Posted By April 20, 2012 | 6:33 pm | International
BISSAU, Guinea-Bissau (CNS) -- The Catholic bishops of Guinea-Bissau repudiated the military coup of the West African nation and called for the respect of democratic rule and for prayer to resolve the conflict peacefully. In a statement released April 17, five days after military commanders seized power from interim President Raimundo Pereira and former Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Jr., the bishops said, "We are facing a very serious national problem of yet unpredictable consequences." They also acknowledged long-standing "explicit signs of uneasiness" that resurfaced during the first round of the presidential election in March and said they must be addressed.

By Catholic News Service
BISSAU, Guinea-Bissau (CNS) — The Catholic bishops of Guinea-Bissau repudiated the military coup of the West African nation and called for the respect of democratic rule and for prayer to resolve the conflict peacefully.
In a statement released April 17, five days after military commanders seized power from interim President Raimundo Pereira and former Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Jr., the bishops said, “We are facing a very serious national problem of yet unpredictable consequences.”
They also acknowledged long-standing “explicit signs of uneasiness” that resurfaced during the first round of the presidential election in March and said they must be addressed.
The coup, which occurred two weeks before elections, aggravated Guinea-Bissau’s tenuous situation and posed “risks, problems and suffering for the whole population” of the country of 1.6 million residents, the bishops added.
Calling for prayer to assure a peaceful outcome of events, the bishops urged the country to “correctly form our moral conscience in order to promote and defend the common good and avoid negative behaviors” that have led to conflict at various levels of leadership.
“Let us have sacred respect for the laws of the republic and for democratically elected institutions,” the bishops said.
They also called for peaceful discussions in order to reach “reconciliation, justice and social harmony.”
The coup also has been condemned internationally. The African Union called for an immediate return to civilian rule.
The military junta and some two dozen political parties that make up the transitional council put in place after the coup chose Manuel Serifo Nhamadjo as the country’s leader April 19.
Nhamadjo finished third in the first round of elections. He was among several candidates protesting the results, accusing the country’s leaders of fraud.
The transitional council announced that it would run the country for up to two years as it prepares for new elections.
Pereira and Gomes are being held in custody and will be released when the interim government is in place, military leaders said. Pereira assumed the presidency early in 2012 after President Malam Bacai Sanha resigned to seek medical treatment abroad. Gomes resigned as prime minister this year to run for president.
Since Guinea-Bissau gained independence from Portugal in 1974, coups and coup attempts have become common in the small country that is slightly larger than Maryland and has 1.6 million residents. No democratically elected president of the country has served a full five-year term.

 

PHOTO: Guinea-Bissau Interim President Raimundo Pereira, shown arriving for an Economic Community of West African States meeting in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, March 27, was deposed in a military coup April 12 and was being held in custody. The country’s Catholic bishops repudiated the coup and urged respect for democratic rule and prayer to resolve the conflict peacefully. (CNS photo/Thierry Gouegnon, Reuters)