Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Keeping hope alive for peace in the Central African Republic

One month ago, at the beginning of September, an appeal was issued in Rome, at the Community of Sant’Egidio, for peace and reconciliation in the Central African Republic.
Signed by representatives of the Bangui government, of the National Transition Council, of civil society and of the different religious organizations, that document represented for the African country the hope of an exit strategy from a very difficult phase of its history, a season marked by instability and widespread violence.
The text of the “Republican Pact” committed the key social forces of the nation to the defense of
human rights and of the democratic framework, even contemplating a series of permanent mechanisms for the prevention and management of disputes. All main participants in the institutional life and the social sphere were asked to “contribute to the promotion of a culture of peace in Central Africa.”
The participants to the negotiations were in Rome in the days in which the prayer vigil for peace in Syria and the rest of the world called by Pope Francis was being held: an additional motive to work on a path to peace and reconciliation.
However, notwithstanding these recently undertakings, the situation in the Center African Republic remains difficult. The general picture is muddled, the clashes continue. The violence primarily involves areas situated far from the capital, near the boundaries with the Democratic Republic of Congo, but there is concern about the future and about the survival of the peace accords. The dispute among the parties are at times exacerbated by the hostility among religious communities that exist in that area.
We need to support the peace effort launched by the Community and by many men and women of goodwill, in particular by the local Catholic and Evangelical churches. A commitment is needed to defeat indifference, as well as a faithful and insisting prayer that may open a breach where a breach may seem impossible. If prayer changed history in Syria, nothing prevents it from doing the same in Central Africa.  

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