News / Africa

Could CAR Violence Lead It to Partition?

Could CAR Violence Lead It to Partition?i
X
April 11, 2014 7:06 PM
The United Nations says 19,000 Muslims in the Central African Republic remain in imminent danger and should be relocated to safer towns farther north or outside the country. But it is a complex issue as tens of thousands of Muslims have already fled their homes in the capital and the western half of the country following attacks. Some local authorities worry that further evacuations could deepen divisions and reinforce calls for a partition of the country. VOA's Anne Look reports from Bangui.
Anne Look
The United Nations says 19,000 Muslims in the Central African Republic remain in imminent danger and should be relocated to safer towns farther north or outside the country.  But it is a complex issue, as tens of thousands of Muslims have already fled their homes in the capital and the western half of the country following attacks. 

Some local authorities worry that further evacuations could deepen divisions and reinforce calls for a partition of the country.   

The C.A.R. is a country divided.  Muslims are effectively separated from Christians.  

In the Muslim part of Bangui's PK12 neighborhood, some talk of eventual reconciliation -- others, divorce.

This resident, Moustapha Nasse, says "That's what I want.  If we separate the country, everyone can be at peace."

Two-thousand Muslims are stuck here in PK12 along a short stretch of road.  They can not risk going out. French and African Union troops stand guard, but trouble still makes its way in, almost daily.

A member of the Islamic committee of PK12, Ibrahim Alawad, stands in the entry to a small house and points in the distance.  

"They throw it through that way and it coming down here," he said.

"It" was a grenade lobbed into the area by anti-balaka militia outside just two days ago.  Five people were wounded.

U.N. agencies are preparing to relocate the Muslims of PK 12 farther north to towns that have agreed to accept them.

Across town i​n the Muslim PK5 neighborhood, many have left. Others want to go, though there are no immediate plans to evacuate them.  

PK5 resident, Haroune, says "We are in an open-air prison. We are held hostage.  We don't feel safe. We want to go north where we can be free and earn our livings."

There are about 10,000 Muslims left in PK5, confined to about a one-kilometer radius since December.

The government has asked the residents to stay.  The minister of communication and reconciliation came to Friday prayers at the Central Mosque as a show of solidarity.

January and February saw much of the country's Muslim minority flee attacks in the south and the west.  The largely Christian anti-balaka militia were seeking revenge for abuses committed by the mostly Muslim Seleka rebels.

International troops escorted huge convoys of Muslims out of Bangui and other zones. Some went to Cameroon and Chad, others to towns in the north and the east, areas still under rebel control.

The mass exodus saved lives.

The government is against more evacuations but acknowledges it can do little to protect Muslims still in danger.

International troops are overwhelmed and under-resourced.  Some question whether those troops could fight off a separatist attempt by armed groups in the northeast.

The rebels who made up the now ex-Seleka coalition appear divided on the idea of partition for now.

General Mohamed Dhaffane, second vice president of the ex-Seleka coalition, says he is against it.  

He told VOA that "within Seleka there is a strong majority that wants partition.  They feel they are no longer accepted, that the Ndjamena accords have not been applied and so there is no sharing of power.  The Muslim population is also being persecuted.  So there are people, in all legitimacy, calling for partition.  But there are others, including myself, who are against.  We are a Muslim minority within the C.A.R.  We must remain and our rights must be respected."

Some in the C.A.R. say those in favor of partition are after diamond revenues, as well as potential oil deposits, in the northeast.

The northeast has spawned several rebellions over the past decade amid complaints that Bangui has done little to develop the north or deal with chronic insecurity.  

C.A.R. presidential spokesman and political adviser, Clement Anicet Guiyama-Massogo, says those needs must be addressed but partition is a dangerous prospect.

He says "we feel there are Islamist extremist groups who are trying to seize upon this situation to further complicate this crisis."

He says Boko Haram and other extremists were among the "mercenaries" present in the country after Seleka took power in March 2013, something Seleka denies.

The government says its position is clear: the country is indivisible.

Many of the Muslims still packing their bags in Bangui agree.  They say they want to reconcile, and that they will return when it is safe.

You May Like

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

During a conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs