The constitution specifies the state is secular and protects the rights of all citizens to exercise their religious beliefs, consistent with the nation’s laws. Religious groups, other than Roman Catholics, Protestants, and Muslims, must register with the government in a protracted procedure that includes providing the religious credentials of leadership, financial information, and plans for religious facilities and satisfying the government’s ethical criteria. Several religious groups applied for registration, but the government had not approved any applications by year’s end. The government was considering a new law regulating worship practices, including means of addressing disputes between religious groups, and solicited input on the legislation from representatives of 11 religious federations.
There were occasional disputes among religious groups, frequently related to noise caused by religious celebrations, or competition for parishioners between churches. Members of different religious groups frequently attended each other’s ceremonies, and interfaith marriage was common.
The U.S. embassy met regularly with religious leaders to discuss religious freedom, and the Ambassador hosted a dinner in July for leaders from different religious groups and government officials, where he discussed interfaith respect and religious freedom.