DAKAR — The Central African Republic's (CAR) rebel leader-turned-interim president, Michel Djotodia, said late Monday that "security has returned' to much of the CAR despite continued reports of disappearances, theft and other alleged abuses against civilians by rebels and other armed groups.
Interim CAR president Michel Djotodia visited Burkina Faso Monday to request the support of Burkinabe president and regional powerbroker, Blaise Compaore.
Djotodia led the Seleka rebel coalition that toppled CAR's government on March 24. On Monday, he dismissed media reports of "rampant insecurity in the country."
He said he does not know what is behind these reports of insecurity. He said the capital, Bangui, is calm now. He said the "big problem" that remains is the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), which he said is still active in the far northeast and east of the CAR. He said the government supports the efforts by the international community to fight the LRA.
However, residents of the capital give a different story, saying Seleka fighters continue to commit abuses against civilians, nearly four months after the rebel takeover.
A woman said Seleka fighters took her younger brother and the driver of the car he was in on a road heading out of Bangui on Sunday.
She said the Seleka searched the passenger's bags and found 300 t-shirts for the ousted president, Francois Bozize. She said the Seleka took the two men to a military camp. She said she has looked but she has not been able to find her brother at the camp or other parts of the city.
Human Rights Watch said it has documented raids by Seleka fighters and other armed groups against villages in the rural areas outside Bangui as recently as June.
Rebel leaders have struggled to control their fighters. Authorities began officially disarming rebels in the capital on July 1st.
A VOA reporter in Bangui has seen several fighters giving up their weapons. However authorities have declined to comment on how many fighters have been disarmed so far.
As many as 200,000 people have fled their homes in the CAR since December when the Seleka rebellion began in the north.
Humanitarian groups say cases of malnutrition and malaria are on the rise, but security concerns and logistical issues make it difficult to access affected populations outside the capital.
Jose Richard Pouambi contributed reporting from Bangui. Zoumana Wonogo contributed reporting from Ouagadougou.