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C.Africa on the ‘brink of genocide’, warns Tutu

Nobel peace laureate Desmond Tutu warned Sunday that the Central African Republic was “on the brink of genocide”, as he urged warring sides to reconcile their differences and “re-learn to live together”.

“Over the past 13 months, the nation’s seemingly incessant struggles for political power and resources have degenerated into anarchy, hatred and ethnic cleansing — the country stands on the brink of genocide; some would say it has already commenced,” Archbishop Emeritus Tutu said in a statement released by his peace foundation.

The former French colony, one of the poorest countries in the world, plunged into a crisis after a coup by the mostly Muslim Seleka rebels in March last year.

After seizing power, some of the rebels went rogue and embarked on a campaign of killing, raping and looting.

The abuses prompted members of the Christian majority to form vigilante groups, unleashing a wave of brutal tit-for-tat killings, leaving thousands dead and close to a million displaced.

In his message, Tutu called on people on all sides of the conflict — Christian, Muslim and Atheist — to “rekindle the spirit of tolerance”.

“When we forgive we liberate ourselves and sow a seed for a new beginning; it has a powerful multiplier effect,” he said.

“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,” he said.

With the humanitarian crisis in the country spiralling, he said the deployment of a new UN peacekeeping force — which will see 12,000 troops on the ground — was a “massive relief” and would help “protect the people from themselves”.

“They will assist to restore broken systems, including policing and justice,” he said.