Sant'Egidio Invited to Mediate in Central African War

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BANGUI, Central African Republic, MARCH 16, 2003 ( The Rome-based Community of Sant'Egidio has been invited to mediate in the conflict that is dividing the Central African Republic.

Sant'Egidio is asked to mediate President Ange Felix Patassé, and former Chief of Staff Francois Bozizé, leader of the rebels, who last Oct. 25 tried to topple the president. The rebels now control more than half the country.

Both sides will meet in Rome for the first phase of a "national dialogue" aimed at settling the dispute. A date for the talks remains to be confirmed.

Sant'Egidio will initiate the national dialogue, which Patassé himself supports, the Misna missionary agency reported. Sant'Egidio previously helped mediate peace talks for Mozambique.

Bishop Paulin Pomodino, president of the Central African episcopal conference, and coordinator of the national dialogue, announced the news of the Rome meeting over Bangui radio.