An official of the Central African Republic bishops’ conference has raised doubts about a new government-rebel peace deal and urged the international community to give greater backing to the country’s legitimate armed forces.
“Of course, we can hope such an accord might lead toward peace, but if it runs counter to justice and truth, this is unlikely,” said Fr Joseph Tanga-Koti, secretary-general of the bishops’ conference, last week.
“Our bishops have condemned the presence of mercenaries from Sudan, Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Uganda. If these countries wish our people to live in peace, they should take steps to stop (the mercenaries) coming here, along with the arms they traffic.”
The priest spoke a day after President Faustin-Archange Touadera and representatives of 14 armed groups signed a peace deal in Bangui, the nation’s capital. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir brokered the deal.
Fr Tanga-Koti said the country’s Catholic bishops had discussed peace objectives with the president on January 12, but had not been invited to observe the negotiations.
He added that many Catholics were sceptical about the new accord, the eighth in six years, which was reached behind closed doors and had not yet been made public.
“Even if the Church had been present in the corridors, it would have had no real input, even though many people are looking to it for guidance,” Fr Tanga-Koti said.
“Everything now depends on the attitude of the main signatories. If they merely ignore the accord in practice and continue killing, it will have achieved little.”