(Vatican Radio) Archbishop Franco Coppola, Apostolic Nuncio to the Central African Republic (C.A.R.), called the country’s presidential and parliamentary elections after three years of violence ‘a true miracle’.
Citizens of the C.A.R. voted Wednesday to choose a president from a list of 30 candidates to replace the transitional leader Catherine Samba-Panza, who was put in place in January 2014.
‘Power returned to populace’
In an interview with Tv2000, Archbishop Coppola commented on the long-postponed elections in the C.A.R., saying “It’s possible to speak of a true miracle. For miracles an immediate cure is required. Here an immediate change of climate took place. Since Pope Francis’ visit there have been no clashes between factions.”
Pope Francis visited the C.A.R. in November, stopping also at Banqui's Grand Mosque for a meeting with leaders of the Muslim community.
“The only clashes occurred on the day of the [constitutional] referendum (which took place on 13 December 2015) between extremists and persons from the same faction, who were more moderate and wanted to vote. Therefore, in each of those groups – the Muslim group and the Christian group – the extremists tried to impede the members of their own religion from participating in the elections. Those more moderate persons, however, - reinforced [in their resolve] by their experience of the Pope’s visit – asked and obtained the possibility to vote.”
“After three years of violence,” the Nuncio concluded, “in which the militias determined the rhythm of the country, this means the power has returned to the populace, returned to the polls. The people has retaken the reins of its destiny and is deciding its future.”
The Central African Republic has been in a state of unrest since March 2013 when a largely Muslim alliance of rebel groups known as ‘Seleka’ overthrew President Francois Bozize.
The rebel leader left power in 2014 and a horrific backlash by the supposedly-Christian militia against Muslim civilians ensued. Thousands were killed and sectarian violence has continued, displacing nearly 1 million people.
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