.- Pope Benedict XVI described ongoing conflicts in the African countries of Libya and Ivory Coast as a “defeat” for humanity, in remarks following his Wednesday general audience.
“Violence and hate are always a defeat!” said the Pope. “I therefore make a renewed and heartfelt appeal to all parties to the cause, to initiate a process of peacemaking and dialogue, and to avoid further bloodshed.”
Pope Benedict said he continued to follow the “dramatic events” in Ivory Coast and Libya “with great apprehension” and prayer for those involved.
The Pope also offered an update of sorts about a peacemaking mission that he sent Cardinal Peter Turkson on to Ivory Coast. “I hope that Cardinal Turkson, whom I have commissioned to visit Ivory Coast to demonstrate my solidarity, may soon be able to enter the country.”
In Abidjan, the economic capital of Ivory Coast, Archbishop Jean-Pierre Kutwa told Fides news agency that “violent fighting” was continuing. Presidential incumbent Laurent Gbagbo has locked himself inside the presidential residence, following an influx of troops loyal to his rival Alassane Ouattara.
Gbagbo's attempts to negotiate a cease-fire on April 5 have reportedly failed. Gbagbo has sought a recount of ballots from the November 2010 election – which international authorities say he lost – while Outtara is maintaining his demand for Gbagbo to step down immediately.
In Libya’s capital of Tripoli, Bishop Giovanni Martinelli thanked the Pope for his appeal. “It is a further boost to diplomacy to not give up strength, and to act in a way that keeps the possibility of reconciliation alive,” said the bishop, who has questioned airstrikes intended to protect civilians.
“Fighting does not help to create peace,” said the bishop.
His remarks came as Libyan rebels, who seek to overturn the government of Colonel Moammar Gaddafi, criticized NATO for what they described as the alliance's slow response time and ineffectiveness. Questions continue to surround the scope of NATO's commitment and the rebels' chances of success.