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

    US Lawmakers Vow to Continue Immigrant Program for Afghan Interpreters

    Congressional inaction threatens funding for effort which began in 2008 and has allowed more than 20,000 interpreters, their family members to immigrate to US

    Brexit's Impact on Russia Stirs Concern

    Some analysts see Brexit aiding Putin's plans to destabilize European politics; others note that an economically unstable Europe is not in Moscow's interests

    US to Train Cambodian Government on Combating Cybercrime

    Concerns raised over drafting of law, as critics fear cybercrime regulations could be used to restrict freedom of expression and stifle political dissent

    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.
    Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roari
    X
    June 28, 2016 10:33 AM
    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora