CAR religious leaders issue joint peace appeal

Leaders join to counter divisive elements

A leading Catholic prelate and his Muslim counterpart have issued a joint appeal for increased United Nations action to counter a growing threat of religious strife in the Central African Republic.

Following the ousting in December of Seleka rebels by a peacekeeping force of some 5,600, Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga of Bangui joined with senior Imam Omar Kobine Layama in issuing a peace message.

“The Central African Republic remains on the verge of a war with religious aspects,” the leaders warned, adding that at least half of the population now “desperately need aid” after months of national mismanagement and abuses by Seleka. Amid the chaos, it has become apparent that certain elements are fomenting rivalries between communities based on religious differences, something the religious heads are working desperately to avoid.

“We believe that it is time, even urgent that the UN deal with the Central African Republic,” the joint message stated.