THE relentless sectarian violence that has plagued the Central African Republic (CAR) over the past 18 months shows no sign of abating despite the world’s efforts to stop the mayhem and prevent the ensuing ethnic cleansing of Muslim civilians in the country.
Attempts to purge Muslims from parts of the country have prompted a Muslim exodus of historic proportions. Many have been murdered day after day by the Anti-Balaka militants, claiming to represent the country’s Christian majority. It is ethnic and religious “cleansing” on a massive scale — revenge on all Muslims, the militia says is for atrocities, committed by some during a rebellion by Muslim rebel groups from the north, known as the Seleka (Alliance), who toppled President Franois Bozizé. After holding power for 10 months, it too was forced out amid allegations of rampant human-rights abuses.
Once the government fell, the Anti-Balaka fighters began attacking Muslim civilians, prompting tens of thousands to flee the country or to the northern part and leaving an untold number dead.
Then, mayhem has prevailed until today, though international peacekeepers under the aegis of the African Union, France and the European Union have struggled to hold the ring. The peacekeepers have failed to prevent the ethnic cleansing of Muslim civilians.
Many angry Muslims advocate a simple solution to the religious violence from Christian militias terrorising the country’s south: partition, to which France has said it will do everything to prevent it, and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has warned of its dangers.
We applaud the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the International Criminal Court (ICC) for sending their fact-finding missions. ICC’s investigators are now investigating possible war crimes by members of both the Seleka groups and the Anti-Balaka militias.
The UN has imposed sanctions — an asset freeze and travel ban — on CAR’s former president Francois Bozize, Seleka leader Nourredine Adam and Anti-Balaka political coordinator Levy Yakete for undermining peace and fueling violence in the country. The international community must act together now, without delay, to save the country from further falling apart. Revenge will never solve the problem. Partition is not the solution to the crisis — it will only worsen the conflict and lead to the emergence of a new state.
It is imperative to re-establish security, law and order in the country where Muslims and Christians once co-existed harmoniously. Justice must be preserved. Those responsible for the mayhem – Muslims or Christians – must be held accountable fairly and firmly.
The Brunei Times/Editorial
Friday, May 16, 2014