Bishops Send Best Wishes to New Zambian President

Urge New Leader to Strengthen National Unity

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The bishops of Zambia are exhorting their newly elected president to strengthen their nation’s unity.

In a declaration of the episcopal conference of Zambia, following the African nation’s presidential elections on Jan. 20, the bishops stated, “Newly elected President Edgar Lungu has to work to strengthen national unity, threatened by party divisions and tribalism,” reported Fides.

Elections followed the death of President Michael Chilufya Sata on Nov. 28, 2014.

In the statement, the bishops stress to President Lungu that stronger unity is needed to counteract the various problems which weakened the nation during the campaign, such as: the use of political violence, divisions within parties, tribalism, misuse of the media, and ‘undue intrusion’ in the election campaign of traditional leaders and members of the clergy.

The bishops said they were “disconcerted by and severely reprimand those of our priests who gave platform to candidates to speak to their faithful during liturgical services, particularly holy Mass, in a manner that is indirectly or directly connected with campaigning.”

“Priests who indulge in partisan politics,” they added, “are in the political arena on their own; they have neither authorization nor backing from their diocesan bishops.”

In their statement, the bishops also expressed they were pleased that the elections were peaceful, even if there had been tensions during the campaigns.

There are about 3 million Catholics in Zambia, about a quarter of the total population. There are ten dioceses, including two archdioceses.

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