CAR hopes for action on marauding gangs
27 November 2013, 14:57
Bangui - As
France announced its intention to send hundreds of more troops to Central
African Republic, residents expressed their impatience for action on marauding
gangs who murder, rape and burn down villages with impunity.
It has been
the talk of Bangui for weeks: why have 400 French troops already stationed at
the capital's airport not been deployed to put a stop to rebel groups spreading
terror across the nation?
Africans got their answer on Tuesday when France said it would deploy about 1 000
soldiers to take on an active fighting role alongside a flagging African-led
"stabilisation mission", as long as the United Nations Security
Council agreed to the move.
should have intervened a long time ago to stop this downward spiral," said
Martin Baba, former president of the country's economic and social council.
"The country has never known such a prolonged period of instability and
described a litany of horrors in the landlocked, sprawling country, with
security forces and militia gangs torturing villagers, carrying out public
execution-style killings and perpetrating widespread rapes.
Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said France has proposed a UN resolution that would
authorise international troops to use force in its former colony, a piece of
diplomatic wrangling requiring Security Council signoff that has perplexed
residents who believe their presence is already overdue.
technician Prince Saturnin Goulam told AFP in Bangui on Tuesday "they
should have been there all along, to rid the country of this horde of criminals
who have gone too far".
estimates that at least 400 000 people, or 10% of the population, have been
forced from their homes by the crisis.
backdrop, sending more French soldiers "can only bring relief", said
Jude Zosse, editor of the L'hirondelle newspaper.
vaccum yawned open in March in the mineral-rich Central African Republic after
a rebel movement known as the Seleka coalition ousted the former president,
leader, Michel Djotodia, installed himself as the country's first Muslim
president and later disbanded the group, but has failed to keep his former
comrades under control.
groups have also appeared to protect Christian communities, which make up about
80% of the population, threatening to inflame religious tensions, with France
and the United States even warning of a future genocide.
security situation of the country has forced our allies to act, headed up by
France, to avoid the worst," said Enoch Derant Lakoue, a former prime
minister and holder of several ministerial posts in the past.
high hopes for any eventual mission. "France will know how to restore
order and bring hope to the Central African people," he said.
Jean-Marie Mabale Ndangue, a Bangui trader, it was time for the former colonial
master to "take responsibility".
that without action Central Africans would be left "barely alive, totally
in chaos, and with nothing to suggest the abuse will stop without a French
resolution aims to strengthen an African stabilisation force in the country as
a first step toward turning it into a formal UN peacekeeping mission.
force currently has about 2 500 troops but has been hampered by a lack of
funds, arms and training, problems the mooted French mission would hope to
reverse before the force is beefed up when it is taken over by the African
Union in December.
was a voice of dissent among the enthusiasts for the sound of French boots
marching down Bangui's streets once again.
doubting Thomas," said Thierry Badia, a resident in the capital. "I
need to see things at work... it is just too early to say."