News / Africa

    CAR President Vows Protection for Muslims

    Parliamentary-elected interim President of the Central African Republic Catherine Samba-Panza gives a speech to residents and members of the media at the monastery in Boy Rabe district in the capital Bangui, Feb. 1, 2014.
    Parliamentary-elected interim President of the Central African Republic Catherine Samba-Panza gives a speech to residents and members of the media at the monastery in Boy Rabe district in the capital Bangui, Feb. 1, 2014.
    Nick Long
    The new president of the Central African Republic, Catherine Samba-Panza, has promised that starting next week, the country’s security forces will be re-organized to protect Muslims as well as Christians.

    The interim president made the announcement Saturday at several sites for displaced people including the central mosque in Bangui, where hundreds of Muslims have taken refuge from the violence in their part of the city.

    Muslims are a minority of the CAR’s population, perhaps about 15 percent. Since last year when a largely Muslim rebel group, the Seleka, seized power, and then gradually lost power, the fellow Muslims have been in increasing danger.

    Her visit to a mosque on Saturday was the first time that Samba-Panza, who is a Christian, has met a large Muslim crowd since she was elected president last month. It marked an important test of her appeal to Muslims.

    The visit was nearly called off in the morning when an anti-Muslim gang burned a house near the mosque and tried to lynch a Muslim, but the president finally arrived there with a heavily armed escort of Rwandan peacekeepers.

    Unlike at the other sites the president had visited, there was no cheering as she shook hands with waiting dignitaries, but she managed to break the ice with a unifying address partly in Arabic, the only language many Muslims here understand.

    She told the crowd she deplores the fact that many people who have lived in the Central African Republic a long time have now been forced to flee to Chad or to the northeast of the country. This is against the principles on which the nation was built, she says, as expressed in its motto - Unity, Dignity and Work.

    Tens of thousands of CAR’s Muslim population have been forced into exile or forced to return to their home countries, while in Bangui and across the west of the CAR frightened communities are under attack by the so-called anti-Balaka militia. Many are anxiously waiting for trucks to get through that might yet take them to safety.

    The Chadian government has taken a lead in evacuating Muslims from the CAR - aid agencies are reluctant to organize wholesale departures because it could be seen as facilitating ethnic cleansing.

    Security forces in the CAR were routed by Seleka rebels last year and, only recently, have begun to reassemble.

    Samba Panza reiterated her call for militias to lay down their arms, but had a conciliatory message for some militia members.

    "Not all the Seleka militia are bandits," she said, "and not all the anti-Balaka militia are bandits either, but they must guard against being manipulated."

    She added that starting Monday the security forces - army, police and gendarmerie - will be rearmed so that they can protect the whole population, in collaboration with international peacekeepers.

    Meanwhile African Union and French peacekeepers have re-established their presence at the town of Sibut, 150 kilometers north of Bangui, where hundreds of Seleka fighters had set up a base. It is not clear whether the Seleka have left the town, but it seems they did not take on the international forces.

    You May Like

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    February 02, 2014 12:46 PM
    In islamic countries of the world, non-adherents to islam have no rights to live. They are treated worse than animals in the farms, much less than the pet animals. In a country like Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia etc, the life of humans who do not practice islam is worth below a chick, a duck that if a muslim kills one, the muslim just pays a little damage to the [owner] of the person killed, or goes to jail for a minimum jail term - sometimes 26 days only. The non-adherent has no right to job, employment or amenities; they have partial voting right - to vote but cannot be voted for. Here in Central Africa Republic, a little taste of their own cookies is served them and the world gathers to denounce it. If it is wrong to kill a muslim in CAR, it is also a criminal offense to deny rights of other citizens in predominantly muslim countries of the Middle East, Asia and North Africa where the practice of dehumanizing citizens because they do not practice islam is the order of the day. If it is wrong to kill a muslim in CAR, it is wrong to kill a Christian in Egypt, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Bahrain, Qatar etc., where you are not even allowed to visit with your copy of the Christian Holy Book, the bible. If the world is talking about the wrong to denial of human rights of muslims - just in CAR - the world should speak out about the mega denial of fundamental human rights of citizens of so-called islamic countries too. What is good for the goose is also good for the gander.

    by: Anonymous
    February 02, 2014 1:49 AM
    Pres.Carthrine should please try to bring this conflicts to an end so that their country should move forward .Also she should arrest ring leader of the Barstard antibalaka militias not they are Brothers and Sister in Christianity 'no side rule the country.

    by: Kamara Mohammed M. from: Monrovia,Liberia
    February 01, 2014 3:33 PM
    Pls African brothers & sisters, let us live together as one,we all are one family ,living in one world,having same the value as human,if we don't live together hamonsiouly,it means that we will perrish as flood.
    In Response

    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    February 02, 2014 1:06 PM
    It is good to make this call when muslims are at the receiving end. It will have more serious meaning when we hear it from the Middle East and Asia where islam is holding sway; it should sound out in Nigeria where muslim militants are killing people in scores daily; it should be heard in the Middle East where muslim terrorists want to eliminate every trace of civilization and things that are not islamic. Let this voice that wants peace in CAR and Africa say so to the muslims concerning Israel. Then and only then can I know that muslims also love peace. Not just now because muslims are being killed. It is when they think before they act if a child draws a cartoon in the internet and name it one of muslims specials. It is good to hear peace, but let some muslim condemn some of the outrageous islamist forays like (suicide) bombings here and there in neighborhoods that are not islamic.

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.