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

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    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.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora