Tag Archives: Seleka CAR

Central African Republic – Seleka to sign ceasefire and drop partition demand

Reuters

(Reuters) – Central African Republic’s mainly Muslim Seleka rebels will sign a ceasefire with ‘anti-balaka’ Christian militia on Wednesday, having dropped their demands for the country to be split in two along religious lines, Seleka officials told Reuters.

Seleka’s call for the country to be officially partitioned into a Muslim north and a Christian south risked derailing talks in Congo Republic aimed at ending religious violence that has killed thousands of people and forced 1 million to flee their homes.

“We will be signing the cessation of hostilities agreement this afternoon,” Colonel Youssouf Ben Moussa, a senior Seleka official, said by telephone from the Seleka-controlled north of Central African Republic.

“Our demand for the partition of the country has been dropped. That demand is obsolete now: what we have agreed to is the sharing of power,” Moussa added.

Most Muslims have fled the south of the former French colony, creating a de-facto partition, but Seleka leaders had pushed for this to be formalised.

Members of Seleka’s negotiating team in Congo Republic confirmed the information. They said they would provide further details after the signing of the deal in Brazzaville, where delegates from the armed groups, transitional government and civil society have held three days of talks.

The former French colony has been gripped by violence since Seleka seized power in March last year. Seleka’s rule was marked by abuses that prompted the creation of the ‘anti-balaka’ militia. Cycles of tit-for-tat violence have continued despite Seleka’s leaders stepping down from power in January this year. Reuters

Central African Republic’s Djotodia leaves for exile in Benin

Reuters
(Reuters) – Gunfire rang out, mosques were attacked and Muslim-owned shops and houses were looted overnight in Central African Republic’s capital, and the former president left for exile in Benin after stepping down as part of a drive to restore order.

There were hopes that the change of leadership might provide a fresh start to peace efforts, and violence had eased by daybreak .
But the United Nations stepped up flights out for foreigners. Governments of other African countries have evacuated nearly 30,000 of their citizens caught up in the violence.

President Michel Djotodia and Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye quit on Friday under intense international pressure after they failed to halt months of inter-religious violence that has driven a million people, a quarter of the country’s population, from their homes.

Thousands of people took to the streets of Bangui, the country’s crumbling riverside capital, to celebrate the departure of Djotodia, who was swept to power by mainly Muslim rebels, known as Seleka, last March.

Abuses by Seleka forces had led to the creation of Christian self-defence militia and killings that evoked memories of Rwanda’s genocide 20 years ago.

Joy gave way to violence late on Friday and African and French peacekeepers reported overnight clashes between Seleka fighters and the Christian militia in Bangui.

“But I can confirm that a good part of the shooting was warning shots from us to disperse looters who were targeting Muslim homes and shops,” an officer in the African peacekeeping mission said, asking not to be named.

The local Red Cross said it had collected three bodies from the streets after violence overnight.

“We don’t understand why we keep killing each other, looting and sowing destruction amongst civilians, even after the politicians people wanted out had stepped down,” said Ahamat Deliriss, vice president of the Islamic Council.

“Mosques in the Petevo, Yapele and Bimbo neighbourhoods were destroyed. It is a shame.”

The streets of Bangui were largely quiet on Saturday.

Government sources in both Chad and Benin said Djotodia on Saturday left Chad for Benin, where he will go into exile.

The choice is unsurprising as Djotodia knows Benin. He spent several years there during the last decade of turmoil and has family in the West African nation.

“TIME FOR PAYBACK”

Former colonial power France, which had sought to stay out of the latest crisis in a country where it has often intervened, dispatched hundreds of soldiers last month to bolster a beleaguered African peacekeeping force as killings spiralled.

Yet violence has continued, killing 1,000 in December. French and Chadian troops were among the victims and international pressure mounted on Djotodia to step aside at an emergency summit hosted by neighbouring Chad this week.

Alexandre-Ferdinand Nguendet, the head of Central African Republic’s (CAR) transitional assembly (CNT), is officially in charge of the country until the body can select a new leader to guide CAR to elections, which are due later this year.

While Djotodia went into exile, Nguendet and other Central African politicians returned to Bangui where, even with 1,600 French and some 4,000 African peacekeepers on the ground, security is precarious.

The International Organisation for Migration on Saturday began airlifting stranded foreigners out of the country, where 60,000 people from neighbouring countries have asked to leave.

Some 27,000 people, mainly from Mali, Senegal, Niger and Chad, have already been evacuated by their governments.

Tensions are running high among those who will remain.

“They (Muslims) killed us, looted and mistreated us. Now it is time for payback,” said Igor Moumini, a resident in the Sica 2 neighbourhood.

(Additional reporting by Emmanuel Braun in Bangui, Madjiasra Nako in N’Djamena and David Lewis in Dakar; Writing by David Lewis; Editing by Andrew Roche)

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FRance to ask EU partners to do more to support CAR intervention

RFI

France to seek European contribution to CAR intervention

People living in an abandoned airplane at Bangui airport

People living in an abandoned airplane at Bangui airport

Reuters/Emmanuel Braun
            By RFI     

France will ask its European Union partners to do more to help its intervention in the strife-torn Central African Republic, Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius said on Sunday ahead of a meeting in Brussels on Monday.

“Tomorrow I will go to the Foreign Affairs Council and I will ask that there be more solid, stronger support,” Fabius said Sunday on Europe 1 radio.

Dossier: War in Mali

 

Poland, Britain, Germany, Spain and Belgium are already helping with logistics, he said, and two countries are “currently considering” sending troops to back up the 1,600 soldiers there.

Nearly half of the 4.5-million population is in “pre-famine conditions”, according to the minister, and there are only seven surgeons among that number.

Fabius rejected claims that the French army has precipitated the massacre of Muslims by disarming the former Seleka rebels, leaving them at the mercy of Christian militias intent on revenge.

“The Seleka… still have weapons and sometimes heavy weapons,” he said. “So the first task is to disarm these heavy weapons. We also go to the Christians to say ‘you must disarm’.”

Right-wing former agriculture minister Bruno Le Maire expressed reservations about the intervention on Sunday.

He claimed that the political justification is “not clear” and that the cost will be high, while France is “alone”, and called on President François Hollande to seek more money from the European Union and more troops from other countries through the United Nations.

Hollande has already pledged that he will ask for more European back-up at a summit on Thursday and Friday. RFI

Central African Republic – 27 dead in latest attack by Christian militia

Reuters

By Emmanuel Braun

BANGUI          Fri Dec 13, 2013 4:09pm GMT

French soldiers patrol on military trucks on the streets in Bangui December 12, 2013. REUTERS/Emmanuel Braun

French soldiers patrol on military trucks on the streets in Bangui December 12, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Emmanuel Braun

BANGUI (Reuters) – A militia group has killed 27 Muslims in a village in the Central African Republic, the United Nations said on Friday, in an attack underscoring the difficulties faced by French troops in stabilising their former colony.

The Christian militia, known as anti-Balaka, killed the Muslims on Thursday in Bohong, a village about 75 km (47 miles) from the far western town of Bouar, the U.N. Human Rights office said.

“The situation is also tense in several towns, including Bouca, Bossangoa and Bozoum, where a vicious cycle of attacks and reprisals continues,” it said in an email.

Mostly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in March, ousting President Francois Bozize. They conducted a string of abuses, prompting the creation of Christian defence groups, which in turn deepened inter-religious conflict.

Christian militia and gunmen loyal to Bozize attacked the capital last week, triggering fresh killings and reprisals. More than 500 people died and 100,000 were displaced from their homes in the capital Bangui alone.

French troops, who now number 1,600 in the country, have restored some order to Bangui and begun disarming gunmen as well as moving out to other towns. But the killings in Bohong point to the scale of the task in a country the size of France.

“We condemn any attack on places of worship and on religious freedom, and urge all communities to exercise restraint,” the U.N. Human Rights office said in a briefing note.

The African country is rich in diamonds, gold and uranium but has seen little stability in five decades. France has intervened more since independence in 1960 than in any of its former colonies.

BANGUI CLASHES

Several people died in clashes in the Miskine neighbourhood of northwest Bangui on Thursday night and Friday morning, according to witnesses, a sign that the capital itself remains unstable.

The fighting started when ethnic Christians on Thursday looted the motor-bike shop of a man linked to the Seleka and escalated into reprisal killings. French troops, backed by a helicopter, restored calm on Friday, they said.

“The tension is still high in the neighbourhood despite the presence of the French,” said Chancella Cazalima, a student.

Residents in Miskine said it was a Seleka stronghold and urged the French army and African peacekeepers to step up their intelligence operations in a bid to bring calm.

There was no immediate comment from the French army.

Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye confirmed on Friday he would not stand at the next elections in accordance with a political accord signed in January.

“We will set up, in the next few days, the national transition authority. This structure, which is independent, is empowered to prepare and organise elections,” he said in an interview on France 24.

France wants elections brought forward to next year, putting an end to the interim period originally scheduled to run into 2015.

U|N says CAR violence spiralling out of control

BBC

CAR communal violence spiralling out control – UN chief

Seleka fighter (July 2013) The government says Seleka fighters have been integrated into the army

 

Communal violence in the Central African Republic risks spiralling out of control, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said.

He warned the Security Council that armed groups were inciting Christians and Muslims against each other.

Mr Ban also backed the establishment of a UN peacekeeping force before the crisis leads to widespread atrocities.

The impoverished country has been in a state of chaos since rebels seized power in March.

A rebel alliance known as Seleka ousted President Francois Bozize from office, replacing him with the alliance’s commander, Michel Djotodia.

Mr Djotodia has since formally disbanded the rebels and integrated many fighters into the national army.

But former rebels linked to Seleka have continued to launch attacks on scores of villages, prompting the emergence of local civilian protection groups.

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In a report to the Security Council, Mr Ban said violence in the CAR “threatens to degenerate into a countrywide religious and ethnic divide, with the potential to spiral into an uncontrollable situation”.

Armed gangs, mainly former Seleka rebels, who are mostly Muslim, now control most of the landlocked country.

Mr Ban said escalating rebel attacks and retaliation by Christian militia groups “have created a deep suspicion between Christians and Muslims in some areas of the country”.

In December, the African Union is due to take charge of the regional peacekeeping force of 2,500 troops currently in the country.

But Mr Ban said he supported the eventual establishment of a UN peacekeeping mission with as many as 9,000 troops as long as conditions allowed.

He also urged Security Council members to impose sanctions against perpetrators of mass rapes and killings allegedly already committed in the CAR.

The Christian majority and Muslim minority always lived in harmony until March 2013 when Mr Djotodia seized power after his forces overran the capital, Bangui.

Mr Djotodia became the first Muslim to rule CAR, installing himself as interim president and forming a transitional government that he says will organise democratic elections.

The government denies targeting any group, but recognises the rise in inter-community violence.   BBC

Central African Republic clashes kill 30

Yahoo

Central Africa clashes ‘leave 30 dead’

A truck with former Seleka coalition rebels drives by in Bangui on October 7, 2013

                                        Bangui (Central African Republic) (AFP) – At least 30 people died and dozens more were injured in clashes Tuesday between ex-rebels of the Seleka coalition and local self-defence groups in the Central Africa Republic, a security source said.

“Fierce fighting has claimed at least 30 lives … but the clashes were still going on as of mid-morning,” the source close to the military high command in Bangui told AFP.

Fighting in the village of Garga, in the country’s northwest, continued into Tuesday morning, the source added.

The self-defence groups began attacking the village on Monday, the source said, leaving three dead and a dozen injured.

They were beaten back by rebels from the former Seleka rebel coalition who distributed weapons to the local population.

Seleka was disbanded in name but continues to operate as a proto-militia in the region.

Garga was “emptied of its residents” who sought refuge in the bush around the area, the source said.

The poor, landlocked nation plunged into chaos earlier this year when a coalition of rebels and armed movements ousted president Francois Bozize in March.

The Central Africa Republic has been shaken by a recent increase in clashes between ex-rebels of the Seleka coalition that led the coup, who are Muslim, and local self-defence groups formed by rural residents who are Christian, in common with around 80 percent of the population.  yahoo

African regional leaders to boost African military force in CAR

 

Reuters

A soldier from the Seleka rebel alliance prays at the central mosque in Bangui March 29, 2013. REUTERS/Alain Amontchi

A soldier from the Seleka rebel alliance prays at the central mosque in Bangui March 29, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Alain Amontchi

LIBREVILLE (Reuters) – African military chiefs agreed on Saturday to more than double the size of a regional peacekeeping force deployed in Central African Republic, where authorities have struggled to contain violence after a rebel takeover.

Thousands of fighters from the Seleka rebel coalition led by Michel Djotodia marched into the capital Bangui on March 24, forcing President Francois Bozize to flee to neighbouring Cameroon.

Djotodia, a former civil servant, was later named interim president by parliament and asked to lead the country to elections within 18 months. But his fighters have been accused of grave human rights abuses.

“It is essential today to modify the mandate of the regional force deployed to Central African Republic … It must be reoriented towards maintaining order and securing the election process,” General Guy-Pierre Garcia, from Republic of Congo, told journalists.

The peacekeeping force, known as FOMAC, currently numbers 730 soldiers.

“The size of this force will be increased to 2,000 men,” Garcia said following a meeting of regional army chiefs in Gabon.

Earlier this month, Human Rights Watch accused Seleka fighters of rape, looting and executing opponents – acts it said could constitute war crimes.

Seleka, a grouping of five rebel movements, launched its insurgency in early December, accusing former President Bozize of reneging on a 2007 peace deal.  reuters