France urges ceasefire in CAR

2014-07-08 15:19
Ex-Seleka rebels drive in a truck in Bangui in CAR. (Fred Dufour, AFP)

Ex-Seleka rebels drive in a truck in Bangui in CAR. (Fred Dufour, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Bangui - France's defence minister warned on a visit to the Central African Republic on Tuesday that the strife-wracked country has no future unless rival factions agree to a ceasefire.

Jean-Yves Le Drian, who arrived in the capital Bangui on Monday, had lengthy private talks in the evening with transitional President Catherine Samba Panza, who was named by parliament to head the deeply poor nation in February.

"There is no future for the Central African Republic if there is no ceasefire" among mainly Muslim ex-rebels and mostly Christian vigilantes, both accused of atrocities against civilians, Le Drian said in an interview broadcast Tuesday by state radio.

Le Drian said that in Bangui itself, the presence of French and African troops and European peacekeepers "has enabled security to become almost good. Almost good. I see this clearly during successive trips."

Hatred and vengeance

But he noted that the situation in the east of the former French colony "remains tense" and stressed the need to prevent "clashes between groups who look only for hatred and vengeance".

The latest unrest in the chronically unstable nation began in March 2013 when the mainly Muslim Seleka rebel coalition toppled the regime of president Francois Bozize and put Michel Djotodia - the country's first Muslim leader - in power.

Djotodia stepped down last January under strong international pressure for his failure to rein in rogue ex-rebels, who relentlessly murdered, raped and looted civilians.

In response, largely Christian communities formed "anti-balaka" (anti-machete) vigilante forces who ruthlessly hunted down and killed or mutilated Muslims.

Peaceful development

Shortly before Le Drian's visit, several people were killed in attacks by both sides in the centre and north of the country, according to security sources, who said 34 Muslims were wounded by a grenade hurled into a mosque.

"These groups must accept a peace process. They need first to accept the ceasefire that is indispensable to peaceful development in the country," Le Drian said.

Paris last December began to deploy troops of the 2 000-strong Operation Sangaris, operating alongside more than 6 000 soldiers in an international force raised by the African Union known as MISCA. In April, a European Union force began to arrive in Bangui.

The ethnic and religious bloodshed has claimed thousands of lives and displaced about a quarter of the population of some 4.5 million. Before he left for Bangui, Le Drian told AFP that "the settlement ... can only be political, yet politics has broken down".

He added that he intended to talk with Samba Panza about restoring "a security chain" of police, the judiciary and prisons, arguing that "we're dealing more with criminal groups than with soldiers".

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.