News / Africa

    Central African Republic Leader in Talks with Militias

    Central African Republic's President Michel Djotodia during a conference in Bangui, Dec. 8, 2013
    Central African Republic's President Michel Djotodia during a conference in Bangui, Dec. 8, 2013
    Reuters
    Central African Republic's interim leader Michel Djotodia is weighing a possible amnesty for militias involved in Christian-Muslim violence that has killed hundreds of people, most of them civilians, in exchange for their disarmament.
        
    The country has been paralyzed by cycles of killing, torture and looting since Djotodia's mainly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in the majority Christian nation in March.
        
    Djotodia has since lost control of his former fighters whose abuses have led to the emergence of militias, known as the anti-balaka, meaning anti-machete in the local Sango language, opposing them.
        
    Over 1,000 extra French troops were deployed this month to try to stop the violence that has displaced over 680,000 people - nearly one-seventh of the country's inhabitants - according to the United Nations.
        
    The former rebel leader said in a state radio address late on Saturday that he had been contacted by a representative of the mainly Christian and animist anti-balaka, who were demanding inclusion in the transitional government he leads.
        
    Elections are due to take place in 2015, however the government in Bangui currently exerts little control even within the capital.
        
    "The anti-balaka sent us an emissary and said they want to lay down their weapons and leave the bush, but they fear for their security. They gave preconditions... They asked for an amnesty and entrance into government," Djotodia said.
        
    "Contacts are already established and we will pursue these exchanges in the interest of peace for all Central Africans," he added. "We don't see the harm, because this is the price of peace."
        
    The anti-balaka along with gunmen loyal to ousted President Francois Bozize, attacked the capital Bangui last week, triggering more killings and reprisals that have deepened inter-religious conflict. More than 500 people died and 189,000 have been displaced in the capital alone.

    • A man takes part in looting a mosque in Fouh district in Bangui, Central African Republic, Dec. 10, 2013.
    • Christians loot a mosque in Bangui, Central African Republic, Dec. 10, 2013.
    • A Christian mob attacks a mosque in Bangui, Central African Republic, Dec. 10, 2013.
    • Chadian troops with FOMAC reload their weapons as they leave the area next to the airport in Bangui, Central African Republic, Dec. 10, 2013.
    • French troops detain a suspected Seleka officer, preventing Christian mobs from lynching him near the airport in Bangui, Central African Republic, Dec. 9, 2013.
    • A suspected member of a Christian militia lays wounded by machete blows in the Kokoro neighborhood of Bangui, Central African Republic, Dec. 9, 2013.

    A government spokesman that Djotodia was not excluding any of the demands made by the anti-balaka and was planning to reach out to other groups for similar talks - which might also mean the Seleka rebels.
        
    "The president will consider anything that will lead to peace in Central African Republic," Guy-Simplice Kodegue said.
        
    In a handwritten press statement seen by Reuters on Sunday, an anti-balaka group calling itself the Youth of the Anti-Balaka Revolution called upon its members to observe an immediate ceasefire to give peace talks a chance.
        
    However, it was unclear how many fighters the group represented.
        
    Rights groups expressed skepticism over whether an agreement with the only loosely affiliated militias could bring peace.
        
    "I think the question is whether there is enough structure among the anti-balaka to deliver on promises to lay down arms" said Peter Bouckaert, emergency director at New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW).

    European Support
     
    Central African Republic is rich in diamonds, gold and uranium but has seen little stability and France has intervened there more since independence in 1960 than in any other former colony.
        
    Paris has deployed 1,600 troops to prevent escalating bloodshed in what President Francois Holland has termed a humanitarian intervention.
        
    Two French soldiers have been killed since the operation began more than a week ago, and public support for the mission in France has waned.
        
    On Sunday, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said he planned to ask for more help from France's European partners.
        
    While European nations including Poland, Britain, Germany, Spain and Belgium have provided various forms of assistance, French troops are intervening alone.
        
    "That is a real big problem," Fabius told Europe 1 radio. "Tomorrow, I'll go to the Council of Foreign Ministers and I will ask [European partners] for stepped-up, more robust aid, including on the ground."
        
    The U.N.-authorized French military intervention has restored a degree of calm to the Bangui. And the African Union has authorized increasing its force in the country to 6,000 troops from 2,500.
        
    But pockets of violence remain and tit-for-tat killings on both sides continued.
        
    Near Bangui's municipal on Sunday stadium Reuters reporters saw the bloodied half-naked corpse of a young man in a dusty field, crouching face down in a pool of blood.
        
    "He was shot twice by Seleka fighters," said Vanessa Amina who lives nearby.
        
    HRW's Bouckaert said violence was also continuing outside of the capital, particularly in the town of Bouca, north of Bangui, and in Bohong, near the western border with Cameroon, where anti-balaka killed 27 Muslims last week.

    You May Like

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora