Take inspiration from Mandela, archbishop tells CAR after deadly violence

2013-12-16 08:54

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Bangui – A senior Christian leader has urged the Central African Republic to take inspiration from Nelson Mandela as he called for reconciliation after deadly sectarian violence he said had turned people into “animals”.

As South Africa buried its first black president, Catholic archbishop Dieudonne Nzapalainga told a mass attended by around 1?500 people that Christians should not answer violence with violence.

“Many Christians have said that they are going to seek revenge,” said Nzapalainga in Bangui, a day after a Muslim motorcyclist was hacked to death in the capital and his cut-off hands brandished by residents.

“We have become animals, the abuses go beyond reason when someone is killed and his arms brandished,” said the archbishop, before calling on the faithful to take inspiration from the “man of peace and reconciliation” that Mandela was.

Also yesterday, presidential decrees showed that Central Africa’s interim leader Michel Djotodia has fired three cabinet ministers.

Finance and budget minister Christophe Bremaidou, security minister Josue Binoua and livestock minister Joseph Bendounga were all dismissed, as was Treasury director Nicolas Geoffroy Gourna-Douath.

The Central African Republic has spiralled into chaos since a March coup by the mainly Muslim Seleka rebel group overthrew president Francois Bozize, with deadly violence pitting Muslims against Christians.

Some 600 people have been killed in the country in the last 10 days, some in mob lynchings.

A source close to the government told AFP the three ministers were sacked “because we don’t know where they are. They were not governing anymore.”

Binoua, who ran unsuccessfully for president in 2005, told AFP he had fled to France because of “threats to my person”.

Weapons were reportedly found at his home, but he says they were for use by security forces and were all accounted for.

Bremaidou and Gourna-Douathar, for their part, are seen as being held accountable for the dire state of the impoverished country’s finances.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon, local authorities and Muslim leader Imam Oumar Kobin Layama have all called for reconciliation.

Djotodia, the majority Christian nation’s first Muslim president, said Saturday he was ready to “extend his hand” and “talk” with Christian militias on issues including an amnesty for their role in the unrest and including them in his transitional government.

“They are not enemies. They are our brothers,” he said.

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