Magazine article The Christian Century

Central African Republic Clergy Urge Faster UN Deployment of Peace Force

Magazine article The Christian Century

Central African Republic Clergy Urge Faster UN Deployment of Peace Force

Article excerpt

Religious leaders, playing an ever expanding role in the troubled Central African Republic, are urging reinforcements for an existing peace mission, even as the United Nations prepares to roll out a bigger one in September.

On April 10, the UN voted unanimously to deploy 12,000 peacekeepers to the country, where chaos linked to Christian and Islamist militias' revenge attacks is continuing. Already, France has 2,000 soldiers in its former colony, joining 6,000 African Union forces.

In welcoming the UN announcement, African religious leaders urged immediate support for the existing mission to prevent the country from sliding further into chaos.

"As the force will only be deployed by September at the earliest, we urge that strong and immediate support be given in order to improve security at this crucial time," said Archbishop Dieudonne Nzapalainga of Bangui in a joint pre-Easter statement with Imam Oumar Kobine Layama, the CAR's most senior Muslim leader, and Nicolas Guerekoyame Gbangou, president of the Evangelical Alliance.

That trio of religious leaders in the CAR were described as the driving force behind a historic agreement of principles on April 8. The Platform of Religious Leaders calls for intercommunal and interfaith dialogue between the key parties to the violent conflict. …

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