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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Zambia bishops, faith leaders warn of crisis if dictatorship results

The president of the Zambian Catholic bishops’ conference joined other religious leaders in deploring worsening tensions in the east African country, accusing its president of intimidating opponents and silencing the media.

Archbishop Telesphore Mpundu of Lusaka and leaders of the Council of Churches of Zambia and the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia said in a statement that the country is at a crossroads as it faces ‘many challenges related to governance, the muzzling of people’s freedoms and human rights violations’.

The leaders said on 16th June they were saddened by the ‘blatant lack of political will’ to tackle Zambia’s crisis, and wished to ‘see the government do better and succeed’ by raising their ‘prophetic voice’.

They said they had tried for weeks to explain their concerns to President Edgar Lungu. They also said they feared he was ‘creating a new dictatorship’.

‘Only leadership that does not have the will of the people on its side, or thinks it does not have the will of the people on its side, uses state institutions to suppress that same will,’ the statement said.

Picture: Zambian President Edgar Chagwa Lungu speaks in 2016 at the United Nations General Assembly headquarters in New York. Zambia’s bishops’ conference joined other faith leaders in deploring worsening tensions in the east African country, accusing its president of intimidating opponents and silencing the media. (CNS photo/Jason Szenes, EPA).