[QODLink]
Africa

CAR president 'not in complete control'

French and African troops flood into Central African Republic after hundreds of people are killed in days of violence.

Last updated: 09 Dec 2013 03:00
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback

The president of the Central African Republic has told Al Jazeera that he is not in complete control of his country.

Michel Djotodia said he could not stop armed groups operating in the country, as a wave of killings left hundreds dead in just a few days.

"It is too much to say I have no control. I control my men. The men I can't control are not my men," said Djotodia, who came to power after a mainly Muslim armed group now known as Seleka overthrew President Francois Bozize earlier this year. 

The mostly Muslim former rebels who control the country are patrolling neighbourhoods across the capital of Bangui, despite an order to return to their barracks.

Residents of Bossangoa have found refuge inside an
African peacekeepers' base [Marcus Bleasdale/HRW]

The Red Cross says 400 bodies have been found after three days of fighting between Seleka and a largely Christian armed group named Anti-Balaka ["anti-machete", the weapon of choice of many Seleka fighters].

Meanwhile, thousands more international troops are on their way to the embattled country. The African Union has around 2,500 troops there now, but is increasing that to 6,000. In addition, 1,200 French troops have been bolstered by the arrival of 400 more soldiers.

On Saturday, the country's interim authorities ordered all forces except foreign peacekeepers and the presidential guard off the streets of Bangui, after a hospital in the capital was been attacked by Seleka rebels.

The gunmen reportedly pulled injured victims from Bangui's Amitie hospital, and shot dead at least ten. The hospital has since been abandoned.

Al Jazeera has learned that the Anti-Balaka group contains elements of Bozize's army, and is regrouping outside the capital, awaiting reinforcements.

Hollande's remarks

French President Francois Hollande also said on Saturday it would be difficult for the current head of CAR to stay in place because he let the crisis there unfold.

"I don't want to point fingers but we cannot keep in place a president who was not able to do anything, or even worse, who let things happen," he said in an interview broadcast on the France 24 TV channel.

Hollande said elections should be held before 2015 when Djotodia's mandate ends. "The idea is to head as fast as possible towards elections," he said.

Nazanine Moshiri blogs from CAR

Bangui: Waiting for the next big battle
Inside Bangui, a deserted city
Hyped-up contact group meeting on CAR
Uncovering a massacre in CAR

Follow Nazanine on Twitter:
@NazanineMoshiri

French forces started deploying to the north and west of the country to secure main roads and towns outside the capital, French army spokesman Gilles Jarron said on Saturday.

"Peacekeepers are patrolling the main roads. This is helping keep the looting down. But the atrocities are inside the neighbourhoods," said Amy Martin, head of the UN officer for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

"If they can get into the neighbourhoods, we might start seeing a reduction in these crimes. The level of atrocities and the lack of humanity, the senseless killing defies imagination."

The latest bloodshed started on Thursday as armed Christians from Anti-Balaka raided Muslim neighbourhoods, in a country that has been seeing tit-for-tat violence between rival armed groups since Bozize's downfall in March.

Djotodia, who was leader of the Seleka rebel alliance, has struggled to control his loose band of fighters, many from neighbouring Chad and Sudan.

French troops rumbled into their former colony on Friday, trying to stop violence in the capital and to stabilise the country after the UN Security Council authorised Paris to use force to help African peacekeepers.

664

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
US drones in Pakistan have killed thousands since 2004. How have leaders defended or decried these deadly planes?
Residents count the cost of violence after black American teenager shot dead by white Missouri police officer.
EU's poorest member state is struggling to cope with an influx of mostly war-weary Syrian refugees.
Study says tipping point reached as poachers kill 7 percent of African elephants annually; birth rate is 5 percent.
Zimbabwe's leader given rotating chairmanship of 15-member nation bloc a year after he won disputed presidential polls.
join our mailing list