January 22, 2014

Several Adventists Killed During Political Unrest in Central African Republic

BY ABRAHAM BAKARI, Adventist News Network, reporting from Yaoundé, Cameroon

A Seventh-day Adventist was killed by gunfire in the Central African Republic recently, becoming the latest of several Adventist victims of sectarian violence in the nation.

Emeryc Patrick Dalikouba, 21, the son of an Adventist pastor, was gunned down on December 21, 2013, outside his father’s home.

Jean Jacques Gueret, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the country, said Dalikouba was “a young, vibrant man engaged in the movement of Adventist Youth.”

Gueret said three other Adventist young adults were killed last April.

Adventists have not participated in the civil unrest between Christian and Muslim groups, Gueret said.

Violence began in the former French colony last March after a mostly Muslim rebel coalition installed their leader, Michel Djotodia, as the country’s ruler. The move prompted attacks by Christian militia. More than 1,000 people have died just in the past six weeks, The New York Times reported.

Djotodia stepped down early in January, and a transitional parliament on January 20 elected Catherine Samba-Panza, mayor of the capital city of Bangui, as interim president. She is the nation’s first female head of state.

More than 886,000 people have been displaced by the violence and some 86,000 have sought refuge in neighboring countries, a report in The Wall Street Journal indicated. The United Nations has designated Central African Republic as one of its top three current humanitarian emergencies, a list that also include Syria and the Philippines.

“We are praying for the newly elected leadership of this country,” said Gueret, the local Adventist Church president. “We are all wanting the violence to stop.”

There are 10,600 Adventist Church members in the Central African Republic, a nation of approximately 4.6 million people.