AFRICA/CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC - New violence against religious while the rebels threaten to march on the capital

Monday, 18 March 2013

Bangui (Agenzia Fides) - A religious was assaulted last week in the village of Bangao (80 km from Bambari in the Central African Republic) from the rebel coalition Seleka.
According to testimonies collected by the Réseau des journalistes pour les Droits de l'homme en République Centrafricaine (RJDH-RCA), the rebels ordered the religious to hand over the keys of his car, which had broken down. In front of his refusal, the rebels hit him with a belt. Gratuitous violence because the rebels were eventually forced to abandon the vehicle, due to its poor condition.
In Bambari rebels ransacked the pharmacy of the diocese, the community radio station and the offices of Caritas.
In the south-east of the Country the population of cities threatened by the advance of Seleka faces a dramatic choice: to stay in the city or take refuge in the forests where the militia of the LRA (Lord's Resistance Army, a group of Ugandan origin notorious for violence on the civilian population) hide?
Meanwhile, the coalition Seleka has issued an ultimatum of 72 hours to President François Bozizé so he fully implements the agreements of Libreville (signed on 11 January), otherwise they will march on the capital Bangui. A delegation of five ministers who had come to negotiate with the leadership of Seleka is held at the headquarters of the rebels in the city of Sibut.
The rebels ask among other things for the release of political prisoners and the departure of South African troops deployed in Bangui, seen as a "praetorian guard" of President Bozizé. The local press says that the latter can also count on the Republican Guard heavily armed and far kept aloof from the fighting, in addition to a newly formed militia. The eventual conquest of Bangui with its 800,000 inhabitants is likely to end in a bloodbath. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 18/03/2013)