Paul Samasumo – Vatican City
The two-day conference that ended Tuesday evening brought together more than 300 leaders of the world’s religions. Also invited were leaders from leading cultural institutions and international NGOs.
The Spirit of Assisi
Organisers said the meeting had been convened in the “Spirit of Assisi.” Pope John Paul II gathered the first World Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi, Italy, on 27 October 1986. In all, 160 religious leaders attended the 1986 Day of Prayer.
In his message to the “Madrid 2019 - Peace without borders” Conference, Pope Francis told delegates to “shout that peace is without borders.”
CAR’s February Peace Agreement has ignited hope
Speaking at the Madrid Conference, President of the Central African Republic, Faustin Archange Touadéra spoke of the significance of the Peace Agreement that his government signed with fourteen rebel groups. The Agreement has ignited a sense of hope in the people of CAR notwithstanding challenges of implementation.
The African Union, with the involvement of CAR’s neighbours, brokered the CAR Peace Agreement negotiated in Khartoum, Sudan. It was then signed in the capital, Bangui on 6 February between Touadéra’s government and fourteen of the country’s armed groups.
Restoring the authority of government
In the past, President Touadéra has told Vatican News that his government wants, as part of the February Agreement, to bring about peace and reconciliation to the country. This involves, among other things, the reorganisation of the national defence force into a national and neutral army.
Touadéra also believes that for normalcy to return, the rule of law needs to be strengthened in CAR. This also means ending impunity and corruption.
Another of the country’s challenges is the daunting task of reconstructing damaged infrastructure. Revamping the education and health sectors are a significant priority. CAR lacks adequate schools and health facilities.
To do all these, President Touadéra has said CAR needs to restore the authority of the state through the visible and actual presence of administrative and local authorities.