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Church calls for unity and peace in run up to Timor Leste elections

Dili (UCAN): The Church in Dili, Timor Leste, has called for people to turn their backs on violence and ensure that presidential elections, scheduled for March 17, are carried out peacefully.

To get its message of peace across, it recently held a five-kilometre walk and is currently conducting 111 days of prayer meetings.

Bishop Alberto Ricardo da Silva, from Dili, led the walk on February 21 from Nossa Senhora Auxiliadora church in Komoro, to the bishop’s residence in Lecidere.

With him were around 5,000 people, including priests, religious sisters and seminarians, as well as government officials and ambassadors appointed to Timor Leste.

The bishop said, “People of Timor Leste must participate in the presidential election with peaceful hearts and sense of unity. This is for the development of (the country).”

He warned that here must be no violence, disunity or war. “The Church takes part in promoting peace in Timor Leste.

So we must keep asking God for strength and also Mother Mary for protection,” he added.

Prayer meetings began on February 22 in every basic ecclesial community in the predominantly Catholic country and will end on June 12.

He called on participants to have peace in their hearts and families according to Jesus Christ’s teachings. “By doing so, we will live in harmony and peace as a nation,” he said.

Pedro da Costa, a legislator, thanked Bishop da Silva for the initiative.

He also expressed his hopes that all politicians will abide by the call. “It is not only words. It must be realised in the presidential election,” he said.

Thirteen candidates—two of them female—are vying for the top job in the upcoming election. 

Campaigning starts on February 29 and ends on March 14.

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