Former rebel leader Michel Djotodia has beem sworn in as president of the Central African Republic, five months after seizing power in the violence-wracked country.
Djotodia swore the oath of office on the Transition Charter, which has substituted for the constitution since the removal of President Francois Bozize, who himself had come to power on the back of a military coup in 2003.
A group of Bozize supporters calling themselves the Front for the Return of Constitutional Order in Central Africa dismissed the inauguration as a masquerade.
“This swearing in is illegitimate because Mr Djotodia owes his position only to the force of Kalashnikovs and foreign mercenaries,” they said in a statement.
Djotodia vowed to combat insecurity in an address marking the nation’s 53rd anniversary of independence from France last Tuesday.
Torture, rape, killings
But a UN report listed “arbitrary arrests and detention, sexual violence against women and children, torture, rape, targeted killings, recruitment of child soldiers and attacks, committed by uncontrolled Seleka elements and unidentified armed groups throughout the country.”
For months, aid groups have warned about the dire humanitarian situation in the country of 4.6 million. In remarks before the United Nations Security Council last week, UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said the country
risked becoming a failed state if swift action was not taken to restore security.
Fighters from Djotodia’s Seleka armed group have been blamed for persistent violence. Human Rights Watch said in a statement on Friday that it was imperative that Djotodia “act fast to control his men,” noting that the organisation “continues to receive credible reports of killings in the provinces.'”
Violence since the March coup has forced tens of thousands from their homes.
The UN said more than 60,000 Central Africans had fled their country and 200,000 have been internally displaced since the crisis erupted in December 2012.