Zimbabwe: faith leaders, Caritas, appeal to Mugabe to end crisis

 The African Council of Religious Leaders (ACRL-Religions for Peace) have reminded President Mugabe and his government that they have a specific responsibility to restore peace and stability to the country and to respect the human rights of all citizens. The leaders said they were profoundly distressed and deeply disturbed that after years of extreme socio-political and economic difficulties, violence is imminent in Zimbabwe. ACRL-Religions for Peace, co-chaired by Catholic Archbishop John Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria, and the Grand Mufti of Uganda Sheikh Mubajje called for a just and peaceful solution to the present crisis occasioned by delayed declaration of presidential results of the March 29 elections. "ACRL-Religions for Peace calls for a more pro-active, positive and determined approach from the African Union and all African leaders in the face of the imminent catastrophe in Zimbabwe, which has almost reached crisis levels. All hands must be on deck to banish for good the unfortunate impression that in Africa, many leaders are not interested in the democratic dispensation their citizenry wishes to prevail. In a statement issued by CISA on Friday, ACRL-Religions for Peace also urged Zimbabweans to continue the peaceful agitation for their rights, to seek political solutions to the current situation, and to stand together to the end, but to never resort to violence. The organisation further called on the international community to stop the transfer of weapons Zimbabwe, adding that what the country needs at this moment from the rest of the world is full and effective support for every effort or move to reach a peaceful solution. Meanwhile, speaking from Rome, the president of the international Catholic charity Caritas Internationalis, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, has urged the UN Security Council to impose an immediate arms embargo on Zimbabwe. Caritas Internationalis, the umbrella organisation for 162 national Catholic charities, said international observers must also be sent to Zimbabwe to monitor human rights. Church leaders in that country said that without international intervention Zimbabweans face genocide. Caritas said that reports from within Zimbabwe of increased violence are deeply troubling and that the international community must prevent further arms reaching the country. A Chinese arms shipment was refused permission to unload in South Africa. Caritas urged all African countries to not allow the arms to be shipped through their territory. "No more arms must reach Zimbabwe unless there is the guarantee that they will not be used against the people. Church workers are reporting an upsurge in violence that is deeply troubling, Cardinal Maradiaga said. "The international community has a clear mandate to act by approving a UN Security Council resolution enforcing an arms embargo against the country. The UN must also act proactively by sending observers to Zimbabwe to monitor any human rights abuses. The Government of Zimbabwe should welcome international monitors. Cardinal Maradiaga further pointed out that as Pope Benedict XVI said at the UN last week, if states are unable to guarantee the protection of their people, the international community must intervene with the means provided in the UN Charter and in other international instruments. The Caritas president also urged respect for the democratic process in Zimbabwe. Results from elections in the country on March 29 have been withheld. Source: CISA

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