Following a tumultuous presidential election and a subsequent coup attempt, Sierra Leone finds itself at a crossroads of uncertainty. Catholic bishops from Sierra Leone’s four metropolitan sees recently met to reflect on the challenges the country has faced over the past year. In a statement reported by RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY correspondent in Sierra Leone, these influential leaders expressed optimism about renewed hope in 2024, despite the shadows cast by a history marked by civil war, the Ebola crisis , COVID-19 and many natural disasters.
Unveiling the shadows of 2023:
The Catholic bishops began their statement by acknowledging the profound instability that has afflicted Sierra Leone throughout the past year. The failed coup attempt of November 26, 2023 loomed large in their minds as they prepared for the traditional Advent, Christmas and end-of-year messages. This incident occurred against the backdrop of a world grappling with the worst global economic crisis, adding to the challenges facing the citizens of Sierra Leone.
A call for solidarity and investigation:
Expressing their “collective state of apprehension and dismay,” the bishops unequivocally condemned the attempted coup against the democratically elected government of Sierra Leone. In solidarity with President Julius Maada Bio, they welcomed his commitment to thoroughly investigate the incident and bring all parties involved to justice. The bishops stressed the need for an impartial, inclusive, prompt, independent and transparent investigation, free from tribal, religious and political bias.
Challenges and Empathy:
Amid the current economic difficulties facing Sierra Leone and the world at large, the bishops expressed empathy for the most vulnerable, especially the poor who bear the brunt of these challenges. They recognized the collective responsibility to uphold justice and unity, emphasizing that despite setbacks, the country has the strength to move forward.
A plea for peace and reconciliation:
Highlighting Sierra Leone’s commitment to peace and reconciliation, the bishops deplored the sad day of the attempted coup. However, they expressed confidence in the collective strength of the nation to overcome divisions and conflicts. Praising citizens for their respect for the laws and their priority for peace, the bishops recognized the efforts of the government and security forces to defend democracy and maintain stability.
Solidarity in the face of challenges:
The Catholic bishops concluded their statement by reaffirming their solidarity with the people and government of Sierra Leone in the face of current political, social and economic challenges. They deplored the loss of lives during the coup attempt and other incidents of insecurity, and offered their sincere condolences to the families, colleagues and forces of the country. In a final plea for justice, they condemned allegations of extrajudicial killings and kidnappings, calling for the rule of law to prevail while guaranteeing the dignity of every human person.
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