CAR leader to im­pose cur­few to stem crime

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - WORLD -

BAN­GUI: Pres­i­dent Michel Djo­to­dia of the Cen­tral African Repub­lic ( CAR) an­nounced that he will shortly im­pose a cur­few on the cap­i­tal Ban­gui be­cause of a surge of armed crime in the city.

“I am im­mi­nently go­ing to is­sue a de­cree to re­store the cur­few from 10pm un­til 6am,” Djo­to­dia said yes­ter­day at a meet­ing of civic lead­ers in the pres­i­den­tial palace, adding that “dur­ing this pe­riod, pa­trols will be stepped up” and any­body car­ry­ing weapons at night will if nec­es­sary be “dis­armed by force”.

The CAR pres­i­dent in­sisted he was ne­go­ti­at­ing with Joseph Kony af­ter Wash­ing­ton rub­bished claims that the wanted Ugan­dan mili­tia boss was per­son­ally in­volved in any talks.

Djo­to­dia is in con­tact with Kony, one of the world’s most elu­sive war crim­i­nals, over the fate of the chil­dren and women en­slaved by his Lord’s Re­sis­tance Army (LRA), pres­i­dency spokesman Guy- Sim­plice Kodegue said.

Kony has been wanted since 2005 by the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court for a raft of crimes against hu­man­ity that have earned him a rep­u­ta­tion as one of the most bru­tal rebel lead­ers in re­cent his­tory.

The 50- year- old’s health is be­lieved to have de­te­ri­o­rated af­ter years on the run in some of Africa’s most hos­tile re­gions but it was not clear if the pur­ported talks were part of a broader sur­ren­der deal.

“There are state­less chil­dren, women, el­derly peo­ple” with Kony and his men, Kodegue said.

The group is known for abducting civil­ians af­ter loot­ing their vil­lages and killing off any re­sis­tance, us­ing them as porters and sex slaves.

“All this has led the Cen­tral African au­thor­i­ties, first among them the pres­i­dent, to con­sider a phase of ne­go­ti­a­tions,” Kodegue said.

Djo­to­dia, whose coun­try has been slid­ing into chaos since he seized power in a March coup, is him­self un­der in­creas­ing pres­sure from the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity, in­clud­ing the US.

He an­nounced at a po­lit­i­cal meet­ing in Ban­gui on Thurs­day that he was per­son­ally in con­tact with the elu­sive Kony, whom he said “wants to come out of the bush”.

But the US, which has spear­headed the hunt since an in­ter­net rights cam­paign went vi­ral last year, quickly moved to cast doubt over Djo­to­dia’s as­ser­tion.

US of­fi­cials said while Djo­to­dia may have been in talks with some LRA-af­fil­i­ated fight­ers try­ing to cut a deal, there was no rea­son to be­lieve Kony was di­rectly in­volved in any ne­go­ti­a­tions.

The UN mean­while yes­ter­day warned that up to 6 000 chil­dren have been en­rolled by war­ring mili­tias in the CAR.

African na­tions have de­ployed about 2 500 troops to the coun­try which is due to in­crease to 4 500 strong, but diplo­mats and many of­fi­cials say it can­not cope with the anarchy and that UN peace­keep­ers may be needed. – Sapa-AP and AFP

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