Responding to allegations that he was not in control of ex-Seleka rebels, the former head of the movement and now President of the Central African Republic Michel Djotodia told journalists that “Those who aren’t [with me] – how can I control them? I am not God, I hope. I am a man like you.” Though taken by the Associated Press as an acknowledgement that a significant portion of the fighters formerly associated with the movement have begun acting independently of Djotodia’s wishes, it seems unlikely this is what Djotodia sought to convey.
Djotodia simply said he did not have control over those who were not loyal to him and in the same press conference, Djotodia blamed forces loyal to ousted President Francois Bozize as being responsible for setting off the recent violence. In addition, while anonymous humanitarian aid officials are also cited in the AP piece as pointing the finger at recent violence at ex-Seleka fighters, it is now widely known that there are a number of groups also operating in CAR that actively oppose the new administration or simply seek to protect their communities from the current lawlessness. Local Christian militias, apparently referred to as “anti-Balaka,” have committed acts of violence as well, and forces believed to be associated with Bozize have had engagements with Cameroonian forces on the shared border, where they have reportedly sought to establish a base area. It is these groups and others like them that Djotodia was likely seeking to place blame on at the press conference. Remember, this is the man who denied the threat of genocide and sectarian strife in a similar press junket on November 30th, again placing the blame on the Bozize regime. Djotodia said the violence was the result of Bozize’s “abuses” and as a result those “victims are taking revenge, that is all.”
All of this comes as the French have boosted their armed contingent in the country to 1,600 personnel and as the African Union recently announced its plans to expand its peacekeeping force, the African-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (MISCA), to a total of 6,000 personnel. This comes after the recent adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 2127, which gave a UN mandate to the French and AU forces. CAR has been wracked by violence and lawlessness since the Seleka rebel group ousted President Bozize in March.