The aftermath of the Pope’s visit to the Central African Republic (CAR)

Following 9 deaths, including a UN peacekeeper in the Central African Republic (CAR), it seems that the Pope’s visit to the region was only temporary respite from the violence which has plagued the country since 2012. On the 30th of November, Pope Francis rounded up his visit to Africa by addressing thousands of Christians and Muslims in the CAR.

At the Koudoukou mosque in Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic, the Pope implored the congregation to embrace peace. He said “together, we must say no to hatred, to revenge and to violence, particularly that violence which is perpetrated in the name of a religion or of God himself. God is peace. Salaam (peace).”

Pope Francis outside the Koudoukou mosque credit-
Pope Francis outside the Koudoukou mosque

In reaction to the Pope’s visit, some of the Muslim rebels reportedly mingled with other nationals wearing shirts that bore the Pope’s image, while people reveled at the possibility of the three-year war finally coming to an end. However, they might have rejoiced too soon as barely three days after the jubilation and renewed hope, blood was shed in the country once again.

On Tuesday, the 1st of December, a Muslim man was killed by the Anti-balaka, which is the Christian rebel group. According to the U.N Mission in the Central African Republic, MINUSCA, prior to the attack there was tension brewing between the Anti-balaka and the Seleka (the Muslim militia) groups in Bambari, the area where the most recent attack took place.

Apart from these killings, CAR’s upcoming election on the 27th is predicted to be violent if it is not closely monitored by security officials. On Friday the 4thof December, a former Seleka group leader, Nourredine Adam, announced that he would not allow elections to take place in the region of the country under his control.

Adam, who controls the Kaga Bandoro region with over 500 fighters, stated that it is the underdevelopment of his area that pushed him to take up arms and said “if they want to send in doctors or teachers, they will be welcome. But any other type of government worker we will not accept. Carrying out a vote in the current climate is not possible.”

Although the country is preparing to hold a referendum to discuss a new constitution before heading to the polls, Catherine Samba-Panza (the interim president) may need much more than the Pope’s ‘forgiveness for the country’s descent into hell’.

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