Central African Bishops Concerned About Endless Violence

Appeal to New Leaders to Guarantee National Security

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BANGUI, Central African Republic, APRIL 10, 2003 (ZENIT.orgFides).- Condemning last month’s coup, the Church in the Central African Republic stresses that only national dialogue can extricate the country from its cycle of violence.

The bishops in the republic voiced that opinion following the March 15 coup by former Chief of General Staff François Bozizé, who took over power and ousted President Ange-Félix Patassé.

«The Catholic Church, while condemning the latest coup, acknowledges the change which has come about and continues to say that only national dialogue can bring the country out of the cycle of violence,» the bishops said in a statement.

«Today we note with sadness that the unexplainable intransigence of the former regime and its lack of political courage have caused a loss of patience,» they said in the statement.

«This is why, despite its anti-constitutional character, this latest coup found a favorable reaction among the people tired of the chaotic management of public affairs,» the bishops stated.

They added, however, that they condemned «the violence which accompanied and followed the taking of power with force; summary executions, sacking and general insecurity, which have given the country an image of a real jungle, where armed men do everything they wish to the civilian population.»

The prelates appealed «to the new leaders to quickly reorganize the national army and the security forces in order to guarantee independence and national unity.»

The Fides news service contacted Capuchin missionaries in the north of the Texas-size republic to have a better understanding of the situation.

A Capuchin spokesman said: «After the violence of the last few weeks, we are slowly moving back to normality. … Stability is returning, except for the town of Bokaranga where most of the people are still in hiding in the bush, chased by bandits.»

«There is no police force, so there are many episodes of sacking,» the spokesman added. «Not even the hospital has been spared. Bandits have stolen everything from medicines to beds, and the contents of files emptied on the floor. The spectacle is most distressing. Medical doctors have fled and only two male nurses remain.»

The whole of the Capuchin mission was looted. «Everything was taken away from the carpentry school, tools, wood, furniture made by our pupils,» the spokesman said. «We are certain that all this material is now in Chad.»

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