Central African Republic Ex-PM, Touadera Ahead After Election

Touadera ahead after CAR's electionFormer Prime Minister of the Central African Republic, Faustin Touadera, has taken a surprise lead in early results from the CAR’s presidential election.

30 candidates contested the poll, which is likely to go to a run-off between the top two on January 31, but Mr Touadera was not seen as a favourite.

He was a Prime Minister in the government of ex-president, Francois Bozize, ousted in 2013 by mainly Muslim Seleka rebels.

Voting took place on December 30, with UN troops guarding polling stations.

30 candidates vied to replace interim leader, Catherine Samba-Panza in the former French colony.

The CAR has been torn by sectarian violence since the Seleka rebels seized power in March 2013.

A band of mostly Christian militias, called the anti-Balaka, then took up arms against the Seleka.

CAR is one of the world’s poorest countries – yet it is rich in natural resources.

Elections also took place for the 149-seat National Assembly.

After seizing power, the Seleka rebels installed Michel Djotodia as the first Muslim leader of the majority Christian country.

But under pressure from regional leaders and former colonial power, France, Mr Djotodia stood down and was succeeded by Ms Samba-Panza.

France Underestimated C.A.R Hatred

France’s Ambassador to the UN, Gerard Araud, has reported back to the international body, on what he described as the hatred between Christian and Muslim communities in the Central African Republic.

He said communities on both sides want to kill each other, and calls to end the fighting are being ignored.

France already has 1,600 troops on the ground in the C.A.R. That is in addition to the 4,000 troops sent by the African Union.

Nevertheless, more than 1,000 people have died in the violence, which erupted when Seleka rebels seized power in March 2013, and installed Michel Djotodia as the country’s first Muslim leader.

Mr. Djotodia, however, stepped down on Friday, bowing to pressure from regional powers, after they decided he was not doing enough to end the crisis.

The UN warned earlier in the week that the Central African Republic was in a “mega-crisis” and that many in the population were living in fear because of religious and ethnic attacks.

C. African Republic Interim President Orders Military Crackdown To Curb Violence

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.

Increasing Conflict In South Sudan, CAR Leaving Millions Homeless

South Sudan and CAR CrisisThe conflict in South Sudan and the Central African Republic is increasingly rendering many homeless and causing a concern for the United Nations, African Union and other individual countries that have stakes in both countries.

The UN has called on the factions to address their differences through an inclusive dialogue.

The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, said that his recent discussions with the South Sudan President, Salva Kiir, showed that he was willing to engage in dialogue while the African Union has called for immediate cease fire, describing the killing of peacekeepers as war crime.

As the conflict escalates, several countries have begun evacuation of their nationals.

A U.S. evacuation mission was aborted when an aircraft on an evacuation mission was short at.

The number of deaths recorded has continued to increase in the country that gained independent from Sudan in 2011.

Elsewhere, in Central African Republic, the president, Michel Djotodia, has expressed his readiness to hold talks with the Christian Anti-Balaka militia, insisting that the country’s survival depends on disarmament.

He urged both the Christian and Muslim vigilante groups to lay down their arms and talk.

Amnesty International said that the number of death recorded in the recent attacks was twice higher than what was previously reported.

The Red Cross had reported that around 460 people have been killed in the violence.

But Amnesty said that the number was higher than that, as some persons prefer to bury their dead without taking the corpse to the Red Cross.

Despite the presence of French troops and other peacekeeping troops, civilians are still being killed on a daily basis.

Amnesty called for more international troops to stop the killings in the conflict that has left hundreds of thousands homeless, increasing humanitarian needs.

Nearly five hundred tonnes of food have been distribute the Central Africa Republic since the crises that has left more than 1.3 million people in urgent need.

Central African Republic Leader Takes Defense Ministry In Caretaker Government

Central African Republic’s new leader Michel Djotodia announced a caretaker government on Sunday in which he is defense minister, according to a statement issued by his spokesman.

The new government, which is due to hold elections in the mineral-rich former French colony within three years, will retain civilian opposition representative Nicolas Tiangaye as prime minister.

Djotodia toppled President Francois Bozize on March 24 after leading thousands of his Seleka rebel fighters into the riverside capital Bangui, triggering days of looting and drawing international condemnation.

The African Union suspended Central African Republic and imposed sanctions on Seleka leaders, including Djotodia, last week. France and the United States say the rebels should adhere to a power-sharing deal signed in Gabon’s capital Libreville in January that mapped out a transition to elections in 2016 in which Bozize was forbidden from running.

Djotodia has pledged to act in the spirit of the agreement and said on Friday he would step down in 2016. But Washington on Saturday said Tiangaye, named premier under the Libreville agreement, was now the only legal head of government.

Bozize seized power in a 2003 coup, but his failure to keep promises of power-sharing after winning disputed 2011 polls led to the offensive by five rebel groups known as Seleka, which means “alliance” in the Sango language.