Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


CAR rebels recruit troops for new army

05 April 2013, 10:25

Bangui - The Seleka rebels who staged a successful coup in the Central African Republic last month are recruiting troops for a new national army, though nobody has the means to pay them.

"Attention! Twenty men come out of the ranks," Corporal Valentin William Saba shouts at a group of about 100 men. Less than two weeks after taking power on March 24, the rebels are sifting out volunteers.

This week queues of several hundred people gathered outside barracks in the capital Bangui. Youths from all ethnic groups are being selected by the Seleka coalition.

Officially, the authorities claim that they are grouping soldiers into barracks ahead of a demobilisation, disarmament and social reinsertion (DDR) programme.

"The idea is disarmament rather than recruitment," says a source close to the government, while a diplomatic source pointed out that neither Seleka nor the state has the means to pay new troops.

However, the Seleka is trying not to discourage candidates, inviting supporters and opportunists alike to join its ranks, to mixed political and social ends.

Colonel Omar Bourdas, one of the top Seleka officers in charge of the general staff's barracks, explains, "It is not about rebels to be demobilised, but new elements for a new army. We know about politics. We are taking on young people to prevent them becoming bandits and thieves. They're out of work. Street kids who could become bandits.

"But, unlike the regime of Francois Bozize [the president ousted by the rebels] we are taking in everybody, whatever his ethnic group or religion."

About 300 people including many women are registered at Bourdas's barracks, with at least 1 000 more at Camp Beal.

Right look

"We are here because there's no work. We're unemployed and do shitty little jobs. We want to be in the army," says a soldier at Camp Beal, where many new recruits are shaving their heads, hoping to have the "right look".

"We suffered too much with Bozize. Now, it's a new regime," says Levis Aidouma Olamoko, 22, who drives a moto-taxi. "I didn't join Seleka because I was in Bangui."

Most recruits, Muslims and Christians alike and regardless of their ethnic stock, claim to be Seleka supporters keen to show their loyalty to the rebellion.

They are ready to sleep out under the stars, and some of the most prepared have brought pieces of cardboard with them to avoid lying on the bare ground.

The recruits include many women like Ella Judith Zolitmboa who says: "The country is not in good shape. I want to be a soldier to defend our country. I am not frightened of men."

Amadou Doly Alain denounces discrimination in Bozize's army. A law student, who several times failed recruitment tests, joins many other recruits in condemning corruption. "You had to pay 5 000 or 10 000 CFA francs [$10 to $13] to join the army," he says.

Doly Alain also dismisses the problem of over manning. "Our territory is vast. We need men to control the whole country."

Stephane Nganademon, who comes from the same ethnic group as the toppled president, says he was not prepared to pay to join the army. "I've wanted to be a soldier since I was 12. And then, I was asked to pay 5 000 CFA francs. I'm ready to die for my country, but I didn't want to pay to be dead."



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Wilson Ochieng
DP Ruto accuses Raila of selling ...

DP Wiliam Ruto has castigated Raila Odinga for seeking western support to fund his 2017 election bid. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
Peter Kenneth announces Uhuru 201...

Peter Kenneth has announced that he will support President Uhuru Kenyatta in the 2017 elections. Read more...

Submitted by
Wilon Ochieng
Labour Party to dump both Jubilee...

The Labour Party of Kenya is likely to avoid supportoing both the CORD and Jubilee factions during the 2017 General Elections. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
Ukambani MP quits Jubilee, to run...

An Ukambani MP has quit the Jubilee Party, citing voter apathy as his reason behind leaving the ruling coalition. Read more...

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
Government launches probe into Po...

The government has launched an inquiry into the circumstances that could have led to two National Police Service helicopter accidents in August and September this year. Read more...

Submitted by
Wilwon Ochieng
Deputy Governor's ally found with...

The EACC has recovered KES 2 million in fake currency from a close ally of Deputy Governor for Tharaka Nithi Eliud Mati. Read more...