CAR – Rebels Declare Autonomous Region

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Rebels stake claim to a northeastern region, as the country prepares for upcoming elections amidst continuing violence. 

The leader of a Muslim ex-Seleka splinter group, Nourredine Adam, on December 13th declared the ‘Republic of Lonogo’ in the northeastern part of the Central African Republic (CAR) an autonomous region.

The move comes just two days after December 11th polls to vote on a new constitution, necessary for the mandate of democratic rule. Adam had called for the votes to abandoned, but they proceeded under United Nations (UN) protection.

A spokesperson for the rebel group, Maouloud Moussa, commented that “what we want first of all is autonomy. Then we’ll look at how to move towards independence”, reported al-Jazeera (15/12).

CAR is currently struggling to cope with significant internal violence between the mainly Muslim ex-Seleka rebels and the mainly Christian anti-Balaka. In 2013 the Seleka rebels overthrew Christian President Francois Bozize, prompting widespread violence. The UN currently has a 11,000 strong force in the country.

“Muslims are marginalised … The north has been abandoned by the central government. There are no roads, no hospitals, no schools.”, Moussa said.

Meanwhile the interim government, the Transitional National Council (TNC) denounced the claims. Spokesperson Dominique Said Panguindji stated, “we call upon the international community and the international forces present in Central African Republic to do everything possible to neutralise the capacity to do harm of these terrorists”.

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Professor of Anthropology at Yale University, Louisa Lombard, commented that “I don’t think that anyone in Seleka really thinks that it is feasible or viable to create an independent state in the northeastern part of the Central African Republic, but they do recognise that it is a useful negotiating tactic now as elections are upcoming”. reported al-Jazeera.

According to a report by Radio France Internationale , in the run up to the elections on December 27th there have been increasing concerns of Boko Haram militants taking advantage of the unrest in the country. Neighbouring countries Chad and Cameroon are facing frequent attacks from the group.

The UN’s Central Africa Chief Abdoulaye Bathily said,”I think it is important for the crisis in Central African Republic to be resolved very quickly and I sincerely hope that the elections will enable the country to recuperate its sovereignty and also peace.

On December 13th Deutschewelle reported that clashes had erupted in the mainly muslim district of PK-5 in Bangui. Ousmane Abakar, a muslim community leader in the district said that “it’s since last night that these extremists have taken us hostage. They have distributed ammunitions to their elements to use all day Sunday to prevent the vote”.

Earlier this month David Zounmenou, a senior researcher at the Institute of Security Studies (ISS), told Al Jazeera that he could not see the elections taking place.

Some external partners, like France, are pushing for the elections to take place, to get the country out of this stage and get the issue out of the way, but i believe this transitional government will be here for a while”, Zounmenou added.

Roughly a quarter of CAR’s total of 4.7 people have been displaced since the outbreak of violence in 2013. A report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) claims that the muslim population in Bangui has dropped from 122,000 to 15,000. This level of displacement has also raised fears over the validity of the proposed vote.

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Arbitrary Violence Continues
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.52, Issue.11, Pp.20787B–20788B

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Poll Dates
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.52, Issue.11, Pp.20777B–20778A

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Reprisals and Retaliations
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.52, Issue. 10, Pp.20751A–20751C

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