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Published On: Wed, Mar 5th, 2014

Religious cleansing in CAR is AU’s shame

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The spectacle of frail women, old men and children struggling to jump into heavy duty haulage vehicles to flee their country for just anywhere is enough to stir consciences in all government mansions on the African continent. Muslims escaping slaughter orchestrated by the mainly Christian anti-Balaka forces in the crisis-torn Central Africa Republic, who have sworn to empty the country of their Muslim compatriots, should be ruffling feathers at AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

However, so far this is not happening and religious cleansing perpetrated by the rough neck youths in the so-called Christian anti-Balaka militias continues unabated. Meanwhile, desperate Muslim militants, who constitute the bulk of the defeated Seleka forces, are regrouping and planning to create a sovereign state of theirs. This dangerous unfolding scenario is in spite of the resignation of the former transitional leader, Mr. Michel Djotodia on January 10, following a meeting of the sub-regional leaders, in N’Djamena, Chad.

In his stead was elected Catherine Samba-Panza, in the capital, Bangui, to superintend over affairs of state before a constitutional order is restored through parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled in 2015. So far, Mrs. Samba-Panza has been considerably helpless in the face of the widening cycle of violence. Even as she promised to make the “priority of priorities to diminish the suffering of the people and to restart (governmental) activities” by a commitment “to proceed with disarmament, demobilization and re-integration of all of the armed groups and put in place security sector-reforms with an army capable of defending the nation”, the orgy of violence has not stopped.

If anything, her arrival on the political scene has only raised hopes of greater global humanitarian assistance. On the day she was sworn in late January, the World Bank announced that it would give $100 million for medical services and food aid. The United Nations and the European Union also pledged to string together a total sum of $500 million dollars to enable the government meet its obligations.

Also in spite of the African Union (AU) hesitation over an European force, the UN has mandated the development of such a force to help with the French military mission along with the AU’s 6,000 force on the ground. The AU would prefer financial assistance to boost its forces. But we ask if Africa cannot organise and pay for its own forces for such critical operation as in Central African Republic, what does it exist for. As it could be observed, the crisis in Ukraine is taken up the attention of the global body. How does the re-invention of the AU from the moribund OAU square up to Africa’s contemporary problems, if it is too hobbled by financial constraints to carry out functions it claims is in tandem with the continent’s aspirations?

As in Libya, Mali and Central Africa Republic, when would Africa lead a steady, sturdy initiative in confronting problems on the continent? The deterioration of conditions in the CAR calls for concerted focus on the mobilization of all available resources to end the unfolding nightmare in the CAR. While we urge the various militias in the CAR to sheath their swords and find a formula for peaceful co-existence, as they have done since the country gained independence, we call on the AU to take on a more decisive role to halt the mayhem and establish a framework for reconciliation and dialogue in that country.


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