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Central African Republic on Genocide Watch?


Violence between Muslims and Christians is spiraling out of control in the Central African Republic. Since a rebel alliance called Seleka overthrew the regime of François Bozizé, himself a dubious former Army officer who led a rebellion in 2003, in March, gangs of former Seleka fighters have rampaged through many villages, killing and terrorizing civilians.

In response, local defense groups emerged and fought back against the mostly Muslim Seleka thugs. Ban Ki-moon told the UNSC that the situation in CAR “threatens to degenerate into a countrywide religious and ethnic divide, with the potential to spiral into an uncontrollable situation.”

The BBC has more:

Armed gangs, mainly former Seleka rebels, who are mostly Muslim, now control most of the landlocked country.

Mr Ban said escalating rebel attacks and retaliation by Christian militia groups “have created a deep suspicion between Christians and Muslims in some areas of the country”.

The Central African Republic has long lain at the bottom of the UN’s human development index. Life expectancy is only 49 years and just over half the country is literate. Christians, who make up about half the population, and Muslims have long lived in harmony.

But that changed with the most recent rebellion. The rebel leader and now president, Michel Djotodia, is the country’s first Muslim head of state. He denies directing violence against certain communities. International observers have become worried that genocide is on the horizon: “If we don’t act now and decisively I will not exclude the possibility of a genocide occurring in the Central African Republic,” said the UN special advisor on the prevention of genocide. Assassinations, robberies, rape and pillaging plague the capital as well as the countryside. Things look dire for CAR.

[People gather on November 17, 2013 at the Sica-Benzvi square in Bangui as unrest erupt after the assassination of a magistrate the day before. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.]

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