New Violence in Central African Republic

Jean-Emmanuel Djarawa, identified only as a “politican” in Central Africa Republic, was killed overnight in the capital Bangui.  Djarawa was reported to have made a speech yesterday, where he called for nominally Christian militia, referred to as anti-balaka, to be “confined to the barracks,” and denounced recent violence.

A map and key facts and figures, from a Congressional Research Service report on the Crisis in Central African Republic, dated January 27th, 2014.

A map and key facts and figures, from a Congressional Research Service report on the Crisis in Central African Republic, dated January 27th, 2014.

Last week there were reports of a number of daylight instances of mob violence in Bangui, against the nominally Muslim population.  These included at least one incident where government troops were accused of being complicit. The International Criminal Court has opened a preliminary examination into possible crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in the country.  The violence has displaced hundreds of thousands both internally and externally, and the UN believes that half of the country’s population requires humanitarian assistance.

Anti-balaka militia appear to be taking revenge on those they see as having been supports of the ex-Seleka rebels, who themselves acted with impunity and terrorized the capital after the ouster of the country’s President Francois Bozize last year.  The leader of the Seleka movement, Michel Djotodia, was subsequently made Interim President, before resigning and fleeing into exile last month.

Djotodia was replaced by current Interim President Catherine Samba-Panza, who became the country’s first female president.  She has herself called for an end to the violence, but has, like her predecessor, shown little ability to control the country’s localized militias.  Reports of truces after her appointment by the country’s Transitional National Council, were met by skepticism that they would not reflect the will of the majority of the actual individual militias, each having their own leadership.

International peacekeepers have had trouble themselves in helping to contain the violence, being accused of complicity with various factions, as well as clearly not having the required manpower to maintain law and order.  Looting was reported on the day of Interim President Samba-Panza’s inauguration, as peacekeepers were called to protect the ceremony.  There is the suggestion that looting and other theft has become a way of life due to the country’s chronic instability.

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