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Interfaith Leaders from Central African Republic Make Joint TV Appearance

Tribal dancers entertain Burundians in Bujumbura to celebrate its 53rd Independence Day.
Tribal dancers entertain Burundians in Bujumbura to celebrate its 53rd Independence Day.
It isn’t often that audiences in the sharply divided Central African Republic witness a joint interview with the top leaders from the country’s Muslim, Catholic, and Protestant communities.

But in an exclusive interview on Wednesday, March 19, the president of the Islamic Community of Central Africa, the archbishop of Bangui, and the president of the Alliance of Central Africa Evangelicals sat down with VOA’s French to Africa Service for an interfaith conversation on the challenges– and the hopes– of peace building in the CAR.

“Having them on our programs really helps underscore to our audiences in CAR the unified message of peace that these three leaders have truly personified,” said VOA French to Africa Service Chief Jeremy Groce.

During their visit to VOA’s Washington headquarters, Imam Omar Kabine Layama, Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga, and Reverend Nicolas Guérékoyame Gbangou appeared on the weekly TV show Washington Forum and the interactive radio program Le Dialogue des Religions (Dialogue about Religions).

Rev. Gbangou told VOA reporter Nicolas Pinault that “the conflict [in Central Africa] is not religious, but political-military. The situation in our country deserves [as much] special attention as Syria and Ukraine. We should be at the center of American interests.” He explained that “the situation has not been well presented by the media.”

The three leaders, in addition to visiting the U.S., have also traveled to Europe to raise awareness on the humanitarian crisis in the CAR. Imam Layama told Pinault that they have received “promises and commitments to support the peace process in the country.”

Archbishop Nzapalainga told VOA that despite the violence, tragedy, and chaos in his country, he remains hopeful that “a new day will eventually rise. Muslims [and] Christians, together, will join hands to build the CAR. Sooner or later, this message will resonate in the hearts of Central Africans.”

The full audio interview is available here, and the televised interview is also available online. Voice of America’s French to Africa Service broadcasts to 22 countries in sub-Saharan Africa on radio, television, and the Internet.