C.Africa militia is an enemy of peace: French commander
Baku-APA. The commander of French troops in the Central African Republic on Monday accused a militia known as the anti-balaka of being the country's "main enemy of peace" who would be defeated as outlaws and thugs, APA reports quoting Reuters.
The mainly Christian vigilantes have been accused of brutal attacks against Muslim rebels after the ouster of president Francois Bozize in March last year by predominantly Muslim rebels led by Michel Djotodia, who was himself forced out last month after failing to end the sectarian violence.
"Those who call themselves 'anti-balaka' have become the main enemy of peace in the Central African Republic, branding (entire) communities and attacking" French forces, General Francisco Soriano said in a meeting in Bangui with the country's religious leaders.
A French operation codenamed Sangaris to end the unrest was launched two months ago.
General Soriano told AFP that nothing was known about the militia's chain of command, its leader or its political message.
Soriano said he would not garrison the militia members as suggested by its self-styled "political coordinator", Patrice Edouard Ngaissona, because this would "give them a legitimacy they don't have and give them the possibility to become a force they're not".
"There will be no cantonment, they will rather be chased away as outlaws and thugs," he added.
Ngaissona has criticised the new government's "ingratitude" for sidelining his forces, but said he was ready to disarm.
"They have no memory, we are the ones who saved them," Ngaissona told AFP in his stronghold of Boy-Rabe, a neighbourhood in the north of the capital Bangui.
Ngaissona, who was a minister in the government that was ousted last year as well as head of the country's football federation, defended the group's actions.
"For several months, the international community did nothing. Nobody told Djotodia and his mercenaries to stop. So, in July, the people rose up.
"There should be a recognition of anti-balaka's role in liberating the people of Central Africa."
Ngaissona also criticised the new president, Catherine Samba Panza, who was appointed on January 20, for failing to appoint him or other anti-balaka to the transitional government.
"Madam said she would take counsel and ministers from us, but she has done nothing," he said. "She is hated today as a result of her government and cabinet."
Ngaissona described the ongoing violence against Muslims as a "settling of scores" and blamed abuses on "rogue thugs".
He acknowledges that he has "judicial problems" -- he was incarcerated in the early 2000s for corruption and remains subject to several ongoing investigations -- but says this is just an excuse to keep him out of power.
Bangui Archbishop Dieudonne Nzapalainga meanwhile called on the media not to refer to the vigilantes as "Christian militias".
"In the 1990s, village militias protected people from highwaymen," he said. "Call them self-defence militias, village militias but please spare us the word 'Christian'" in this context.
"Muslims are not the only ones suffering from the anti-balaka. We have all become victims," he added.
Related news releases
- 23.07.2016Fourteen bodies found after 'execution' in Benghazi, Libya
- 20.07.2016Tunisia’s president extends nationwide state of emergency
- 16.07.2016Somalia suspends school linked to failed Turkish coup
- 14.07.2016Mali World Heritage site in danger: UNESCO
- 12.07.201612 dead in Zambian bus crash
- 11.07.2016South Sudan leaders order ceasefire as civil war fears grow
- 09.07.2016Zimbabwe's Mugabe says pay delay is no reason for strike
- 06.07.2016Kidnapped Sierra Leonean diplomat released in Nigeria
- 05.07.201630 killed, 40 injured in central Tanzania road accident
- 02.07.2016Libyan forces battle Islamic State street-to-street in Sirte
- 30.06.2016Roadside bomb hits bus, kills 17 in Somali capital
- 30.06.2016Double suicide attacks kill at least 28 in Cameroon
- 25.06.2016Gunmen storm hotel in Mogadishu, Somali official says
- 25.06.2016Nigerian military kills 10 Boko Haram fighters in NE state
- 23.06.2016Protesters target shops owned by expats in South Africa
- 22.06.2016Armenia to ask Pope Francis to open Vatican secret archives on Armenian ‘genocide’
- 21.06.2016Libya conflict: At least 25 dead in weapons store explosion
- 21.06.2016Seven Egyptians abducted in Libya: Foreign Ministry
- 18.06.2016Somali court sentences 43 Al-Shabaab militants to death
- 18.06.2016Egypt's Morsi sentenced to life in espionage trial
- 18.06.2016Egyptian ex-president jailed for life
- 17.06.2016Boko Haram militants kill seven police in attack in Niger: military
- 17.06.2016Egyptian governor: Russian plane that crashed lacked security
- 16.06.2016Black box from doomed EgyptAir plane discovered
- 16.06.2016Suicide car-bomb kills ten in NW Libya
- 14.06.2016At least 11 killed in fresh violence in northern Mali
- 11.06.2016Libyan forces claim port in Islamic State stronghold of Sirte
- 10.06.201632 killed in traffic accident in eastern Sudan
- 09.06.2016Ethiopia base in Somalia attacked by al-Shabab
- 08.06.2016Libyan brigades edge closer to Islamic State stronghold of Sirte: security sources
- 07.06.201640,000 people displaced by recent Boko Haram violence in Niger
- 05.06.2016Libya unity government backed by two armed groups in the east
- 04.06.2016Boko Haram attack kills 32 in Niger
- 03.06.2016Dangerous migrant smuggling routes flourish in lawless Libya
- 02.06.2016Death toll in al Shabaab attack on hotel in Somali capital rises to 15: police
- 01.06.2016At least 4 injured in landmine explosion in Somalia
- 31.05.2016Libya unity govt allies capture IS-held towns
- 31.05.2016UN renews South Sudan sanctions
- 29.05.2016Militants blow up Shell, Agip pipelines in Nigeria
- 29.05.201615 people feared dead in Tanzania boat accident
- 11.02.2014Nigerian president sacks chief of staff: sources
- 11.02.2014Egypt sets Feb. 20 for Al-Jazeera trial
- 11.02.2014At least 119 dead after military plane crashes in Algeria
- 11.02.2014South Sudan rebels say they will boycott latest peace talks
- 08.02.201416 Jihadists killed in army raid in Egypt's Sinai
- 08.02.2014U.S. delegation leaves Tunisian constitution celebration after spat with Iranian official