Pope Francis arrived yesterday in the Central African Republic, with Muslims as well as Catholic representatives welcoming him at Bangui airport in the hope that he would promote reconciliation in the country torn by inter-religious strife.
A representative of the country’s Muslim community, El’ Adji Tchakpabrede, said the Pope had not come to Central Africa for the Catholics, but for Central Africans.
He said the coming together should serve as a good sign of reconciliation between Muslims and Christians in Central African.
Pope Francis was welcomed by interim President Catherine Samba-Panza. Among the crowd that had gathered to see the pope, many expressed hope that he would help to reconcile Christians and Muslims.
CAR has suffered sectarian violence since mainly Muslim Seleka rebels overthrew President Francois Bozize, a Christian, in March 2013.
Thousands have been killed, and nearly one million people were displaced at the height of the conflict in early 2014.
There was concern that extremists from either side could use the papal visit to break the tense calm and instigate new violence.
Francis was expected to use the Popemobile during his visit, in spite of concern that local authorities would not be able to guarantee his security.