News / Africa

    Refugees Await Vote Results in Central African Republic

    Christian families living in a refugee camp stand under a tree in Kaga-Bandoro, Central African Republic, Feb. 16,  2016.
    Christian families living in a refugee camp stand under a tree in Kaga-Bandoro, Central African Republic, Feb. 16, 2016.
    Associated Press

    It's been more two years since Therese Waima fled for her life with her five children after Muslim rebels shot her husband to death. While adjusted to a new normal inside a sprawling camp home to thousands of others, she still dreams of going home.

    Yet even as she cast a ballot this past week in Central African Republic's historic presidential runoff vote, she knows it is still too dangerous to return to her village, where she wants to resume selling peanuts and manioc to support her family.
     
    "I hope to leave one day, but we can't right now so long as there is still insecurity," she says as she washes laundry in a plastic bucket outside the thatched hut where her family stays with thousands of other Christians in the town of Kaga-Bandoro.
     
    Sunday's election, even with its problems, marked a rare success in a country where more leaders have come to power through coups than through elections since independence from France in 1960. Though there was no major violence, many here in this town 330 kilometers (200 miles) north of the capital, Bangui, know the guns haven't disappeared altogether.
     
    "We ask the new president to make disarmament his first priority," said Fidel Magonda, 48, as he collected cornmeal and split peas at a food distribution organized by the U.N. World Food Program and its local partners this week.
     
    The church pastor has spent the past two years at a displacement camp with his wife and seven children in Kaga-Bandoro after Seleka fighters burned their home to the ground. And his concerns underscore the challenges that will face whoever ultimately wins the presidency: simmering tensions in the north, and hundreds of thousands of people displaced not only inside the country but living in camps in neighboring Chad, Cameroon and Congo.
     
    The north of Central African Republic has long been a fief of Muslim rebel groups, each with its own four-letter French acronym. In 2013, several of them joined together as Seleka, the word for alliance in the local Sango language. They ultimately overthrew the president of a decade but their leader was forced to step aside after rebels committed scores of atrocities against Christian civilians during their brutal reign in power.
     
    By late 2013, a largely Christian militia known as the anti-Balaka had arisen in opposition to Seleka forces, carrying out brutal attacks on Muslim civilians. The conflict has displaced nearly 1 million people _ about half internally including those who have fled to Kaga-Bandoro from surrounding villages in the countryside.
     
    "There needs to be a base level of security," said Lewis Mudge, a researcher with Human Rights Watch. "People need to have the security and the confidence to start to regain their lives. And most people that I am speaking to know that is not going to come simply with an election. The elections are not going to be the silver bullet that everyone wants them to be.''
     
    Hundreds of Seleka fighters regrouped here in Kaga-Bandoro along with Muslim civilians after fleeing the capital two years ago. Many ex-Seleka have reformed into a new group known by its French acronym, FRPC, or Popular Front for the Rebirth of Central African Republic, under the leadership of a former top Seleka official named Noureddine Adam.
     
    Adam is believed to be in neighboring Chad despite being on a U.N. sanctions list that includes a travel ban and a freeze on his assets. These days his followers here are more likely to wear jeans and sandals than military gear.
     
    His followers say they want to live in peace with Christians and the refugees should feel safe going home. But he says his men are tired of the country's north being marginalized by the government in Bangui, a complaint that has fueled rebellions long before the Seleka overthrow of the government.
     
    Moussa Aboua Maoloud Baret, a local leader of the FRPC, says he sees little difference between the two candidates, both Christians, both former prime ministers who served under governments that didn't address the problems of the north.
     
    "We are awaiting the results of this election that was imposed by the international community,'' he says. "We have no problems with the Christians, there are plenty of churches here and none have been destroyed. But we don't want to be marginalized. That is the problem.''

    You May Like

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    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.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    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 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.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora