Johannesburg - The Central African Republic (CAR) is on the brink of genocide and the power now lies with its citizens to end the political turmoil, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu said on Sunday.
“The country stands on the brink of genocide; some would say it has already commenced,” said Tutu in a statement released by his Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation.
“It is the people of the Central African Republic who hold the key to sustainable peace. It is the people who must re-learn to live together,”
Tutu warned that over the 13 months the country's “incessant struggles” for power and resources had “degenerated into anarchy, hatred and ethnic cleansing.
He said that the United Nation's announcement that it would deploy a peacekeeping force was a “massive relief”.
However, Tutu said that he joined the UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon's call for the leaders and people of the CAR “to rekindle the spirit of tolerance and mutual respect”.
Tutu said that one of God's greatest gifts to people was the ability to discern right from wrong and find ways to reason with each other and deal with differences.
“When we forgive we liberate ourselves and sow a seed for a new beginning; it has a powerful multiplier effect.”
Earlier this month MSF SA (Doctors without Borders) raised a fundraising drive saying CAR was facing a “growing humanitarian crisis”.
The organisation said nearly one million people were displaced in CAR.
On March 31, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said that SA would not deploy troops in CAR as there were sufficient troops from the region, the European Union, and France.
“Indeed there is a crisis in that country right now but the issue is not about the shortage of boots on the ground. The issue is about how best do you utilise the forces that you have at hand,” Mapisa-Nqakula said at the time.
South African troops were deployed in the CAR last year, but withdrew after a bloody battle on March 23, left 13 soldiers dead and another 27 wounded. - Sapa