French Complicity in the Crisis in Central African Republic

0,,17275197_303,00 2On 5 December 2013, while ‘Operation Sangaris’ was still in its infancy, ‘Anti-Balaka’ elements armed with machetes, launched attacks and massacred many Muslims whom they accused of supporting the Seleka from the north, predominantly Muslim too – divide and rule, the legacy of French colonialism is taking its toll.’

According to the weekly Jeune Afrique, it was not just retaliation, but a professional military attack coordinated by the son of former President Bozizé. More than 600 people were killed in the capital Bangui. Since then, the image of the conflict became greatly blurred : While they are saying that they are neutral, French forces are accused by Muslims of siding with Christians and French troops. Relations with interim President Michel Djotodia deteriorated to hate level (especially due to his link with Islamists when France was fighting the same Islamists in Mali.)

African forces meant to help restore peace were said to have different agendas. Thus Chadians were believed to protect the Seleka (among which are nationals of their country) while soldiers from Congo-Brazzaville and Burundi feel closer to the Christian populations; to the extent that an exchange of fire took place between Burundian ‘peacekeepers’ and their Chadian counterparts in Bangui. The tension was such that ultimately it was decided that Chadians had to be relocated to the north of the country (Colette Braeckman, Le Soir, 28 December 2013).

Worried that the crisis could spill over into the DRC (like it was with Rwanda in 1994, in fact the DRC has already welcomed thousands of refugees from CAR, which shares a long but porous border with CAR), Kinshasa announced the deployment of 850 troops in Central Africa to secure the border. Curiously, Rwanda which is at war with the DRC, also announced that it would provide a contingent of 800 men to the African Union (apparently Rwandan troops are going to hunt the Hutu ‘genocidists’ allegedly hiding in CAR).

More than 1,000 people have killed in a matter of days in the first weeks of 2014 and the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF says that two children were beheaded, and that ‘unprecedented levels of violence’ are being carried out on children. An estimated 935,000 people have been uprooted throughout the country (AP, 13 January 2014). 150,000 internally displaced people remain crammed for months now in makeshifts at Mpoko International Airport.

France was determined to ‘correct the mistake’ it made by backing Michel Djotodia. Since French troops’ relation with interim President Michel Djotodia deteriorated to hate level, there was no way he could continue to preside over the country. He quickly became a liability.

For an in-depth analysis, read “French complicity in the crisis in Central African Republic” by Antoine Roger Lokongo here.

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