5 July 2006

Cote d'Ivoire: New Church Media to Promote National Healing

Abidjan — The Catholic Church will shortly launch a radio station and a newspaper to foster national reconciliation, bishops announced at the end of their recent plenary assembly.

The daily newspaper, La Nouvelle, and the radio station, La Voix de l'Evangile will cover the entire nation.

This was announced at the end of the Conference's plenary assembly held in Abidjan, FIDES reported.

Among other issues discussed by the bishops at the June25 meeting was the situation in the north, still under control of the New Forces rebels.

The prelates said they were satisfied with Catholic school results in that area despite the rebel presence. Despite the national crisis since 2002 when the hitherto stable and prosperous West African nation was plunged into civil war, school results in the north are above the national average.

Despite the situation of instability in the north the local Church never deserted the people but continued to offer material and spiritual assistance, the bishops said. In particular, priests and missionaries ensure basic health and education services.

The bishops asked their justice and peace commission to launch new initiatives to foster national reconciliation and peace.

Côte d'Ivoire is preparing for general elections in October which should lead to national reunification and a new era. Difficulties remain at the military level. Talks between the army and the rebels in a Bouaké (the rebel "capital" in the north) stalled over demands made by the insurgents.

The rebel FAFN army has demanded an integrated general staff, recognition of grades of rebel troops to be integrated into the regular army and back payment of wages.

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