Central African Republic’s Interim President, on Monday, January 13, warned vigilante groups that the time of pillaging the country was over.
Interim leader, Alexandre-Ferdinand Nguendet, sent hundreds more soldiers onto the streets with orders to shoot anyone disturbing the peace.
The nation has been gripped by months of inter-religious violence, which killed 1,000 people in December alone.
After a coup in March 2013, abuses by rebel Seleka forces led to the creation of Christian self-defence militias and killings that evoked memories of Rwanda’s genocide 20 years ago.
Nguendet became Interim President over the weekend after former interim leader, Michel Djotodia, who was swept into power by the mainly Muslim Seleka rebels, succumbed to international pressure to resign on Friday, January 10.
Joy over Djotodia’s departure gave way to violence over the weekend, with sporadic attacks, particularly at night, on Muslim-owned shops and businesses.
“All of the armed elements, I am warning the anti-Balaka and Seleka that the holiday is over. To the forces of order, I order you to shoot to kill at all those disturbing the public order, so that peace can reign in this country. The break is finished,” Nguendet said in an address to the nation’s armed forces.
Nguendet added that the period of “anarchy” in the country was over.
“I have launched an operation, called “Bangui without gunfire.” There will be a rapid intervention operation put in place, under my command. In case of robbery, this rapid intervention team will be working 24 hours a day and the number will be given to the population. Whenever there is a robbery, or vandalism, in any neighbourhood, minutes later the perpetrators will be neutralised.”
The Red Cross said its workers collected 10 bodies from the streets over the weekend and it had treated some 60 wounded people at the Community Hospital in Bangui.
“The break is over. The robberies are over. The chaos is over. The Central African people must get back their honour to allow the country to live,” Nguendet said.
Former colonial power, France, which had sought to stay out of the latest crisis in a country where it has often intervened, dispatched hundreds of soldiers last month to bolster a beleaguered African peacekeeping force as the killings spiralled.
The National Transitional Council will start work on identifying a new leader on Tuesday, January 14.
Under the country’s transitional charter, Nguendet will lead the country until a new interim president is chosen by the council, within two weeks of Djotodia’s resignation.