The Central African Republic (CAR) has announced a 15-day state of emergency after armed groups tried to block the capital, Bangui, in a bid to topple newly re-elected President Faustin Archange Touadera.
Rebels controlling about two-thirds of the perennially volatile nation launched an offensive a week before presidential elections on December 27, trying to blockade Bangui and carrying out several attacks on key national highways.
“The state of emergency has been proclaimed across the national territory for 15 days, starting from midnight (2300 GMT),” presidential spokesman Albert Yaloke Mokpeme said over national radio on Thursday.
He told the AFP news agency the state of emergency would also allow authorities “to make arrests without going through national prosecutors”.
Touadera was declared the winner of the polls by the constitutional court on Monday, despite a very low turnout mainly due to insecurity in a country caught up in a civil war for eight years.
On January 13, the rebels launched two simultaneous attacks on Bangui but were rebuffed by MINUSCA, the UN mission in the CAR.
“Since that thwarted offensive, there haven’t been any other attacks, just incidents linked to the curfew,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Abdoulaziz Fall, a MINUSCA spokesman.
On Thursday, the UN envoy to CAR said the country “is at serious risk of a security and peacebuilding setback”.
A substantial increase in the number of peacekeepers would give the mission greater mobility on the ground, Mankeur Ndiaye Ndiaye said in an address to the UN Security Council.
Ndiaye also pushed for “a few months” extension to the reinforcement by 300 Rwandan soldiers seconded since December from the peace mission in South Sudan.
The reinforcement was planned for two months.