Reverberations from the March 24 coups in the Central African Republic continue to sweep through the small landlocked country. A recent increase in deadly clashes between President Michel Djotodia’s rebel forces and remaining loyalists from the overrun president, Francois Bozize, have alarmed the international community.
Regional leaders are gathered in the Chadian capital of N’Djamena to discuss the progress of a peace plan that was to be implemented by Djotodia’s new government but has obviously failed. The meeting will also determine if additional troops will be sent to the C.A.R. to assist in stabilizing the country and bring an end to the fighting.
Reports say that 13 people died and 52 were wounded in mid-April as fighting was at its worst in the C.A.R. capital of Bangui. Djotodia places the blame on residents and the deposed president. “Bozize prepared a civil war and gave the youth weapons of war and machetes,” he said. “This armed neighborhood has always opposed the presence of our men.” These are the men who have terrorized, tortured, and killed civilians since their rise to power.
International aid groups in the country say that members of the Seleka rebel movement also continue to loot local homes and businesses, instigate violence, and recruit children to their ranks. Angry mobs of Central Africans formed in protest to Seleka’s behavior, leading to the sharp increase in violence between civilians and the new leadership.
Because of the instability, scores of Central Africans have fled to surrounding countries for safety. Over 37,000 have crossed into the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cameroon, and Chad, hosted by local populations and refugee camps. UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards has called on the Seleka authorities to end the violence against civilians and restore security so that aid can reach those who need it, including the 173,000 internally displaced people in the country.
Renee Lott is an intern at Foreign Policy in Focus.