NPA Denounces French Intervention in Central Africa – a Misjudgement with Consequences.
Fleeing families near the cathedral in Bossangoa.
NO TO FRENCH MILITARY INTERVENTION IN THE CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC!
The French military intervention in the Central African Republic has begun. The United Nations Security Council has given the international police operation an a ‘legitimacy’, on allegedly humanitarian grounds. The goal of the intervention is claimed to be “restore constitutional order” and “prepare the ground for future elections” , and in the immediate present, to ensure the “disarmament, containment and dismantling of armed groups.”
In fact, France is involved in this former colony, where it has a long history of supporting dictators like grotesque Bokassa, to defend its own interests. It was France which, ten years ago,brought in President Bozizé whose hated and corrupt regime has collapsed.
No one can remain indifferent to the plight of the population. But a military intervention sponsored by the major imperialist powers will not solve anything. Indeed it will do the opposite. Its goal is not to end the abuses and looting carried out by Seleka. This action follows the same objective as that in Mali. As in the rest of Africa the real aim is is to maintain the position of the great powers, while the political system they have set up no longer has any power. For the Government of President Holland and prime Minister Ayrault, the objective is to preserve France’s old colonial privileges, and those of the French multinational Areva, Bolloré and other Total.
Military intervention can only lead to further suffering for the population, and to new crises..
French Troops Out of Africa!
More on the NPA’s views on France as the Imperialist Gendarme in Africa here.
They notably deny that there is a “pre-genocidal” situation in the Central African Republic “The French government has talked about pre-genocidal situation, that is not the case. Genocide is the result of a deliberate policy of discrimination and hatred against a portion of the population accompanied by a specific ideology, as in Rwanda where for years a political stigma against Tutsi took place…they should know, as they (The French Foreign Ministry) participated in this.” The NPA does admit however that, there “is a real risk that these cycles and inter-religious violence could worsen and spread.
Comment: There are so many reasons why this reaction of the NPA is wrong, absolutely wrong, it is better simply to let a more factual account speak for itself.
Innocent victims: France sends in more troops to stop massacres in Central African Republic
Bangui, Central African Republic – France and the African Union on Saturday announced plans to deploy several thousand more troops into embattled Central African Republic, as thousands of Christians fearing reprisal attacks sought refuge from the Muslim former rebels who now control the country after days of violence left nearly 400 people dead – and possibly more.
French armoured personnel carriers and troops from an AU-backed peacekeeping mission roared at high speed down Bangui’s major roads, as families carrying palm fronds pushed coffins in carts on the road’s shoulder. In a sign of the mounting tensions, others walking briskly on the streets carried bow-and-arrows and machetes.
Concluding an aptly-timed and long-planned conference on African security in Paris, President Francois Hollande said France was raising its deployment to 1,600 on Saturday – 400 more than first announced. Later, after a meeting of regional nations about Central African Republic, his office said that African Union nations agreed to increase their total deployment to 6,000 – up from about 2,500 now, and nearly double the projected rollout of 3,600 by year-end.
One of the world’s poorest countries, Central African Republic has been wracked for decades by coups and rebellions. In March, a Muslim rebel alliance known as Seleka overthrew the Christian president of a decade. At that time, religious ideology played little role in the power grab. The rebels soon installed Michel Djotodia as president, though he exerted little control over forces on the ground. He has since formally disbanded the Seleka coalition, but the former rebels now consider themselves the army.
Amid new massacres on Thursday, U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution that allows for a more muscular international effort to quell months or unrest in the country. Troops from France, the country’s former colonial overseer, were patrolling roads in Bangui and fanning out into the troubled northwest on Saturday.
“This force is going to deploy as quickly as possible and everywhere there are risks for the population, with the African forces that are present – currently 2,500 soldiers,” Hollande said, referring to the increased French presence. “In what I believe will be a very short period we will be able to stop all exactions and massacres.”
In an interview with France-24 TV, Hollande said the AU reinforcements would arrive “in the coming days,” without specifying. He said 1,600 French troops was “enough: There won’t be more,” and added that they would remain as planned for about six months – though a residual force of 500 to 600 might stay thereafter.
Word of the bigger deployments came as human rights groups continued the grisly business of counting and collecting bodies of those killed in recent massacres. The death toll in the capital from the recent fighting rose on Saturday to 394, said Antoine Mbao Bogo of the local Red Cross.
French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, speaking on i-Tele TV, said France accelerated plans for the 1,600-strong deployment because of the “upsurge” in violence since Thursday. He said French forces would disarm any armed militias, and would use force if the fighters don’t hand over their weapons peacefully.
He said French troops had been sent to Bossangoa, the home region of ousted President Francois Bozize and many of his perceived supporters.
Central African Republic President Michel Djotodia called on former rebels who are now integrated into the national army to stay off the streets now being patrolled by French and regional forces. Presidential spokesman Guy Simplice Kodegue said those who violated the order would be punished.
Now, sectarian strife has grown. On Saturday, aid workers returned to the streets to collect bloated bodies that had lay uncollected in the heat since Thursday, when Christian fighters known as the anti-balaka, who oppose Djotodia, descended on the capital in a coordinated attack on several mostly Muslim neighbourhoods. Residents of Christian neighbourhoods said Seleka have counter-attacked by going house-to-house in search of alleged combatants and firing at civilians who merely strayed into the wrong part of town.
Zumbeti Thierry Tresor, 23, was among those slain after he tried to cross through another neighborhood to visit family members in another part of Bangui. Seleka fighters shot him in the neck and stomach, his friends said. On Saturday, neighbors hiked the rocky path to his one-room home where his covered body lay on the floor underneath neatly hung music posters.
Outside the front door, his wife wailed hysterically, gripping their 3-year-old daughter in her lap as neighbors crowded around her. Alongside their house, a team of a dozen men with sticks and shovels dug Tresor’s grave under the shade of a tree.
“We want the French army to come and protect us,” said Tresor’s friend, Francois Yayi. “We have no police to call. The Seleka will kill us all.”
He and his friends begin counting on their fingers the number of neighbours slain amid the latest spasm of bloodshed. At least 10 they determine have died since Thursday.
As families mourned their dead, others fled by the thousands to the few known safe places in the capital – the airport guarded by French troops and the grounds of a Catholic center run by the Salesians of Don Bosco. About 3,000 people had fled to the complex on Thursday when the fighting began and that number swelled to 12,000 by Saturday.
“We have no water, no food, no medicine – we have nothing,” said Pierre Claver Agbetiafan, looking around the center where he works.
As dusk fell, hundreds of people began lining up outside the mission’s doors for a safe place to sleep, carting foam mattresses and plastic buckets of food on their heads. Some even toted wheeled luggage, not knowing when they could return. Every bit of ground near the tennis courts was crowded with families preparing for a night on damp ground under the open sky. The air filled with smoke as women tended small fires to prepare dinner.
Judith Lea, 47, came with a family of 20 including her 3-day-old grandson to escape violence in their neighborhood on the north side of the capital. As people settled in for the night, she and the other female relatives argued over what to name the little boy who has spent nearly his entire life in a displacement camp.
“When the Seleka rebels came to the house, they stole his blankets and all the little things we had bought for him,” Lea said, stretched out on the ground to rest. “When this war is over, what will we do? He is cold and hasn’t had his vaccines yet.”
Most of the displaced in Bangui are Christian: ex-Seleka have not targeted Muslim neighbourhoods. But anger over the attacks has prompted vicious reprisals on Muslim civilians in other parts of the country. Nearly a dozen Muslim women and children were slain less than a week ago just outside the capital in an attack blamed on the Christian fighters.
Seleka are blamed for scores of atrocities since taking power, tying civilians together and throwing them off bridges to drown and burning entire villages to the ground. Anger over such abuses has fanned a backlash against Muslim civilians, who make up only about 15 percent of the population. The anti-balaka, the armed Christian movement that has arisen in response to the Seleka attacks, is widely believed to be supported by former army soldiers loyal to ousted President Francois Bozize.
Associated Press writer Sylvie Corbet in Paris contributed to this report.
The BBC reports give similar details.
An estimated 10% of CAR’s 4.6 million people have fled their homes, while more than a million urgently need food aid, according to the UN.
The largely Muslim rebels controlling much of the country have been accused of atrocities against Christians, and fighting between Muslim and Christian militias has broken out in the capital, Bangui, and elsewhere.
Christian communities have now set up so-called “anti-balaka” self-defence forces, most of them loyal to the ousted president.
The latest bloodshed in the capital is said to have started as militias loyal to Mr Bozize attacked the city.
At least 394 people have died in three days of fighting in the capital alone, the Red Cross says.
Some 600 French soldiers were patrolling the streets of the capital on Saturday, although the centre of the city was still reported to be in the hands of the Seleka rebels.
French reinforcements arrived from western neighbour Cameroon on Saturday and armoured personnel carriers were visible on Bangui’s roads.
CAR Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye says more troops are needed to stabilise his country”
The African Union already has an estimated 2,500 troops in the country and had been set to boost its size by 1,000. But a statement on the French presidency website said the AU had decided to extend its force to 6,000.
The CAR’s Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye said the international troops were a good start but were not sufficient to stabilise the country in the long term.
He told the BBC the situation in his country was so chaotic he had been unable to speak to Mr Djotodia since the violence had escalated on Thursday.
“Everything has been destroyed. We need to restore order before the administration can begin working again,” Mr Tiangaye said.
The French mobilisation comes hard on the heels of an operation against Islamists linked to al-Qaeda who had seized control of northern Mali and were threatening the south of the country too.