Monday, December 30, 2013

CAR: " A blind man looks for a four leaf clover "

Radio France International reports

Chadian troops to be pulled out of Bangui

                                                                     A Chadian soldier in Bangui earlier this month

Chadian troops are to be pulled out of the Central African Republic's capital, Bangui, after clashes with demonstrators and Burundian soldiers. The Chadians, who are the largest contingent of the African peacekeeping force, Misca, will be redeployed to the north.

Chad is widely believed to be have been behind the Seleka rebellion and having troops from there is not all that smart. The feeling in the Christian community is that the peace keepers from Chad are actually protecting Muslim and particularly Seleka interests.

"The whole Chadian contingent will be sent to secure the north in the next few days," Misca spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Ndong Toutoune told the AFP news agency.

I am not at all sure that is a good idea. I blogged a few days ago about an ABC report that contained this account from the streets of Bangui.

" Other signs had a hand drawn map of this nation located at the heart of Africa, but showed it split into two, with a Muslim homeland penciled in in the country's north."

It doesn't take a geopolitical genius to draw a line on map and I suspect that that is something that isn't too far from the front of President  Idriss Déby Itno's mind. Now the Chadian African Union peacekeeping troops are going to be stationed in the north. The plan being to secure the north which is a largely muslim part of the CAR. The UN in January 2012 reported

" BANGUI, 11 January 2012 (IRIN) - Among the most pressing security threats in the Central African Republic (CAR) is a Chadian armed group active in the north of the country, which allegedly continues to recruit and acquire weapons, despite having undertaken to return to Chad."

It would seem that they had a change of mind about returning Chad and instead came south with the Seleka rebels robbing, raping, killing and terrorising the largely christian population of the southern CAR.

The announcement came after exchanges of gunfire were reported in Bangui, which remains tense despite the presence of Misca and French troops.

Sustained gunfire erupted near the airport, where hundreds of people have taken refuge, and on Wednesday morning Burundian troops were patrolling the PK12 neighbourhood after overnight shooting and explosions.

Misca has launched an inquiry into incidents involving Chadian troops this week.

Misca (Support Mission to the Central African Republic ) at this point includes soldiers from Gabon, Chad, Congo-Brazzaville, Burundi and Cameroon with DR Congo sending a further battalion of 850 troops, which seems almost too much of a coincidence not to be commented on.

Chadian soldiers opened fire on stone-throwing Christian demonstrators on Monday, killing one and wounding 40.

And the head of the Burundian contingent said that on the same day Chadian soldiers threw a grenade and opened fire on some of his men.

Some Burundians returned fire, wounding three Chadians, he said.

It is interesting that just about everyone seems to be avoiding the obvious, this is now a full on sectarian conflict and the battle lines have been fairly much drawn up by Seleka " foreign mercenaries " read Chadian and Somali criminals. Sending the Chad soldiers to the north is an acknowledgement of that but for the territorial integrity of the CAR it would have been better to have sent them home. 

Chad has contributed 850 troops to the 3,700 Misca force but many Central Africans accuse it of meddling in their country's affairs with Christians accusing the Chadians of favouring the Muslim Séléka militias.

Gabon, Congo-Brazzaville, Burundi,   Cameroon and the DR Congo are largely Christian nations and they appear acceptable to the Christian majority but they spell the end of the interim regime of President Djotodia. 

Muslims demonstrated against the French on Tuesday, accusing them of failing to disarm Christian anti-balaka armed groups.

I suspect that the French might be the only foreign military power that will show any interest in defending the rights of the Muslim community in the not too distant future. Pissing them off is not a smart move.

At a Christmas Eve press conference interim President Michel Djotodia appealed for peace.

"Love each other," he begged his compatriots. "You can find that in the Bible and the Koran."

With the departure of the the Chadian troops "begging " is about all he can do. The anti-balaka groups are made up of former soldiers of the previous regime I blogged a few days ago .

" The anti-balaka are reputed to be former member of the CAR military that were displaced when Michel Djotodia the new interim President and his Seleka coalition forces displaced the previous regime in March."

Djotodia announced a ban on "all illegal marches" and accused deposed president François Bozizé of stirring up sectarian violence.

Rather than the Seleka rebels he no longer commands.

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