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Central African prelate hopeful about ceasefire

Catholic World News - August 04, 2014

The Central African Republic’s leading prelate has expressed cautious optimism that a recent truce between Séléka and anti-Balaka forces will lead to peace.

The Islamist Séléka forces held sway in the country from March 2013 until January 2014 and conducted a campaign of persecution against Christian churches. The anti-Balaka forces, composed largely of animists and Christians, originally organized in self-defense but later took revenge, attacking mosques and driving numerous Muslims from their homes.

The nation’s hierarchy has emphasized that anti-Balaka is not a Christian organization and has denounced human rights violations on both sides.

The truce’s signatories, said Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga, have promised that “from now, we will no longer attack and kill.”

“The real issue for us is the question of the culture or education for peace,” he told World Watch Monitor. “If, in a fighter’s head, he is convinced that he wants to give peace a chance, he will lay down the weapons. He will undertake another activity to earn a living. Therefore, it is important that we disarm our hearts, our minds, so that we can fit into this dynamic of peace.”

Following the prelate’s comments, 22 died in renewed fighting, Agence France-Presse reported.

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