Head of the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI has taken an initiative to broker peace in Ivory Coast by sending top Ghanaian Catholic Church clergyman, Peter Cardinal Appiah Turkson to that country.
The Pope told the Associated Press that he was sending the Cardinal to Ivory Coast, “to show my solidarity and that of the universal church to the victims of the conflict, and to encourage reconciliation and peace”.
Cardinal Turkson is the head of the Vatican’s justice and peace office. The justice and peace office is responsible for promoting the church’s social teachings on justice issues, such as war, the death penalty and human rights.
Ivory Coast is at the brink of civil war following disputed elections in November 2010. Incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo has refused to step down and handover power to Alasane Ouattara who is believed by the international community to have won the elections.
Meanwhile, the BBC citing residents, reports that forces loyal to Ouattara, have captured the administrative capital Yamoussoukro, indicating that fighting erupted when they later entered the key port of San Pedro on their advance from the north against incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo.
According to the UN, one million people have fled the violence – mostly from the main city Abidjan – and at least 462 people have been killed since December.
International institutions and some countries have imposed economic and travel bans on the Gbagbo faction, and the West African sub-regional grouping ECOWAS has even threatened to remove President Gbagbo by military force.
Born in 1948, Cardinal Peter Appiah Turkson is the first Ghanaian to be appointed Cardinal on October 21, 2003.
He has been the President of the Catholic Bishops Conference in Ghana since 1992. He is also the Chancellor of the Catholic University College of Ghana and the Archbishop of Cape Coast in Ghana’s Central Region. He was ordained priest on July 20, 1975; appointed Archbishop on November 21, 1992 and consecrated on March 27, 1993.