Tuesday, January 21, 2014

CAR: " The panic seeps through bloodstained floors as Grendel stalks the night "

Al Jazeera reports

CAR appoints Bangui mayor as interim leader

Catherine Samba-Panza voted in as EU foreign ministers agree to deploy 500 soldiers to Central African Republic.

                                              Interim President CAR Catherine Samba-Panza

The Central African Republic has appointed the mayor of Bangui to be interim president, as the European Union agreed to send 500 soldiers to help stabilise the country.

Catherine Samba-Panza, one of eight candidates, was elected by members of the National Transitional Council about a week after former rebel leader Michel Djotodia resigned as president under international pressure over his failure to end the bloodshed.

The reaction on the streets of Bangui is interesting from the New York Times: 

“Everything we have been through has been the fault of men,” said Marie-Louise Yakemba, who heads a civil-society organization that brings together people of different faiths, and who cheered loudly when the speaker announced Ms. Samba-Panza’s victory. “We think that with a woman, there is at least a ray of hope,” she said. 

"I am the president of all Central Africans, without exception," said Samba-Panza. "I appeal to my anti-balaka and Seleka children to listen to me and together lay down your weapons."

I am not sure of Samba-Panza religion but I have seen a different translation of the above statement that seems to suggest she is Christian.

" I call on my children, especially the anti-balaka, to put down their arms and stop all the fighting. The same goes for the ex-Seleka - they should not have fear. I don't want to hear any more talk of murders and killings. Starting today, I am the president of all Central Africans, without exclusion."

What ever translation you prefer and for that matter what ever religion she follows she has an uphill battle. The Daily Mail reports

" Shocking photographs have emerged of a cannibal by the name of Mad Dog eating the flesh of a lynched Muslim man for the second time in as many weeks.
In one, 'Mad Dog' - real name Ouandja Magloire - cuts a portion of meat from the body of a murdered Muslim lying burning on a roundabout in the capital of the Central African Republic, with the body of another a few yards away."

A man who goes by the name of Mad Dog cuts off a portion of a burning body to eat, as the bodies of two lynched Muslim men are burned in a street in Bangui, Central African Republic
Last March, rebel groups known as Seleka came together to overthrow President François Bozizé and there have been widespread reports of killings, rape and looting since then. Attacks and counter-attacks between Muslims and Christians have intensified the levels of bloodshed and brutality.

                                       Magloire said that his action was revenge for the murders of his pregnant wife

The mail photos illustrate that.

To qualify, the eight candidates had to show they had no link to the Muslim Seleka rebels which brought Djotodia to power, or the forces behind the mainly Christian "anti-balaka" militia.

Samba-Panza faces the challenge of rebuilding one of Africa's most fractured nations - torn apart by a conflict that a senior UN official warned last week could slip into genocide.

I think a genocide is unlikely now, the hard fact is that soon the country will face a grave food shortage and getting through that ironically might be the turning point that the nation requires.

Enhanced EU role

Her appointment comes as EU foreign ministers agreed on Monday to embark on its biggest military operation in six years.

Ministers meeting in Brussels approved an outline plan to send a battalion-sized force to the violence-torn country but detailed military plans still need to be worked out.

Which is a pathetic response. This emergency requires at least a Brigade if not two. A battalion is anywhere between 300–1300 and a brigade 3000–5000. The Huffington post reports:

" European Union foreign ministers agreed on Monday to send up to 1,000 soldiers to help stabilise the country, a diplomatic source said, the bloc's first major army operation in six years."

I gather the actual figure is 600 troops.

EU officials hope to get UN Security Council authorisation for the mission this week and also that the force will start arriving in the CAR by the end of February. It will be based around the capital Bangui.

So it is not only far too little it will probably arrive far too late. The tragedy is that we have been aware that this situation was on the cards for just about a year. The International Community has stuffed up perhaps not yet on the scale of Rwanda 1994, but that could still come to pass.

It is not yet clear which EU countries will contribute troops. Estonia has promised soldiers, and Lithuania, Slovenia, Finland, Belgium, Poland and Sweden are among countries considering sending troops, diplomats say.

France has already sent 1,600 troops to the war-torn country. The foreign ministers of the 28-nation European Union agreed on a "crisis management concept", for a multinational European force that would be active for six months and tasked with helping stabilise the situation.

And in the interim, President Samba-Panza will have to attempt to quell the murdering without the resources to do the job. 

Large EU countries such as Britain, Germany and Italy have said they will not contribute.

Yes, this blog has argued for an overhaul of the UN Security Council and it is long overdue, Germany for instance would like a permanent seat. This act of humanitarianism by the Germans should be rewarded with a ban from even taking a temporary seat for the next couple of decades. As for the British their permanent seat should be revoked.   

CAR is supposed to hold elections by February 2015, according to the terms of a regionally-brokered peace plans that set up the governing National Transitional Council in March last year.

The National Transitional Council has been a complete failure to date if the world can't get some support on the ground soon I have fears for President Samba-Panza's administration.


  1. My reasoning for assuming that President Samba-Panza is Christian is that in the second translation she "especially" calls on theanti-balaka (Christian) community to lay down weapons. That said she was born in Chad and her father is Chad national, her mother is from the CAR. It is a guess. I hate guessing.

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