Tag Archives: Seleka CAR

Muslims being “erased” from Central African Republic, says Amnesty

Al Jazeera

By Azad Essa

Militias have taken advantage of the political vacuum in Central African Republic (CAR), engaging in ethnic cleansing towards Muslims in a bid to erase the community from the country, human rights group Amnesty International has said.

Discussing Friday’s report, entitled “Erased identity: Muslims in ethnically cleansed areas of the Central African Republic,” Joanne Mariner, a senior crisis response adviser at the UK-based organisation, told Al Jazeera that Muslims in the western half of the country were being repressed and forced to abandon their religion.

More than 30,000 Muslims are living in seven enclaves guarded by UN troops across the country, but for those living outside, especially in rural areas, they are being targeted with impunity, the report found.

“They not allowed to express themselves as Muslims; if they are outside the enclaves, they cannot pray, dress in any way that identifies them as Muslim,” Mariner said.

“Their survival depends on a daily routine of negotiation with anti-Balaka fighters.”

Mariner said that many had been forced convert to Christianity or face persecution from the community

‘Failed state’

More than one million people have been displaced since Muslim-led Seleka rebels took control of Bangui, the capital, in March 2013.

Following a spate of abuses by the Seleka rebels, vigilante groups known as anti-Balaka (anti-machete) emerged to fight off the new leadership.

But the anti-Balaka, made up of animist and Christian fighters, also targeted the country’s Muslim minority, seen as sympathetic to the Seleka.

Amnesty’s report, based on a series of interviews with residents across CAR, says militias “unleashed a violent wave of ethnic cleansing aimed at forcing Muslims to leave the country”.

“The continued insecurity and threat from the anti-Balaka comes from there being an absence of a state,” Marina said.

Though violence in CAR has tapered off since late 2014, the country remains largely insecure.

The collapse of the state apparatus and the fragility of the transitional government have left parts of the country to the mercy of militia groups in the hinterlands.

Concerns remain that despite the perceived calm, the root causes of the crisis have yet to be addressed.

Amnesty’s report comes just days after the International Rescue Committee said CAR “needs a new start, or it will become the case study of a failed state”.

Destruction of mosques

In April, a US envoy said that almost all of the 436 mosques in CAR have been destroyed in the violence. Samantha Power, US ambassador to the UN, called the devastation “kind of crazy, chilling”.

Amnesty said in Friday’s report that none of the mosques outside Bangui, and the town of Carnot, have been repaired or rebuilt.

One of the “clearest signs of the intensity of sectarian animus was the destruction of the country’s mosques,” the organisation said.

More than 6,000 people have been killed since the crisis began in March 2013.

“The key challenge is a lack of security. The government understands they have a long way to go [but] they need to be able to assert control over these far flung areas,” Mariner said.

The International Committee of the Red Cross(ICRC) said this week that more than 1,000 people were still looking for their loved ones, a year after after being separated from them during the wave of violence.

“In this part of the country, very few families have been spared the pain and uncertainty of being separated from loved ones,” Scott Doucet, head of the ICRC sub-delegation for the west of the country, said.

The UN says that that 2.7 million people, more than half the population, are still in need of aid, while 1.5 million people were affected by food insecurity.

The global body’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairssays humanitarian needs continue to exceed resources available.

Meanwhile Doctors without Borders (MSF) has previously described the country to be in a state of a protracted chronic health emergency.

CAR has been led by a transitional government since January 2014. The country is schedule to hold presidential and parliamentary vote scheduled on October 18.

Source:: Al Jazeera

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2015/07/erased-identity-muslims-in-the-central-african-republic-in-pictures/

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