CAR pres­i­dent warns of an at­tempted coup

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Those be­hind the wave of vi­o­lence in Cen­tral African Re­pub­lic’s cap­i­tal were try­ing to stage a coup, the coun­try’s in­terim pres­i­dent charged af­ter rush­ing back from the U.N. Gen­eral Assem­bly.

“This was noth­ing short of an at­tempt to take power by force,” Pres­i­dent Cather­ine Samba Panza said in re­marks broad­cast on na­tional ra­dio late on Wed­nes­day af­ter she re­turned to Ban­gui, cut­ting short a visit to the Gen­eral Assem­bly in New York.

Since Satur­day, Ban­gui has been rocked by sec­tar­ian clashes which have so far killed 36 peo­ple and forced nearly 30,000 from their homes, prompt­ing a U.N. ex­pert to warn of the risk of civil war if the vi­o­lence was not brought un­der con­trol.

With a cur­few in force, the city was quiet overnight and by Thurs­day morn­ing, the wel­ter of bar­ri­cades set up by protesters had largely dis­ap­peared, lo­cal res­i­dents told AFP.

In her speech, Samba Panza de­nounced “an or­ches­trated ma­nip­u­la­tion by part of the pop­u­la­tion” to in­cite peo­ple “to rise up and res­ur­rect sec­tar­ian con­flicts.”

The aim was to pro­voke the pop­u­la­tion into “ris­ing up against in­ter­na­tional forces and cer­tain friendly coun­tries,” she said.

De­mon­stra­tors man­ning the bar­ri­cades had called for Samba Panza’s res­ig­na­tion and the re­moval of U. N. peace­keep­ers as well as those from France’s San­garis mil­i­tary force who were de­ployed to sta­bi­lize the coun­try af­ter the sec­tar­ian killings of 2013-2014.

She also re­it­er­ated a call for the “in­dis­crim­i­nate dis­ar­ma­ment” of all armed groups across the coun­try ahead of pres­i­den­tial and leg­isla­tive elec­tions which were to have been held in Oc­to­ber but which will once again be de­layed.

The un­rest be­gan on Satur­day in Ban­gui’s flash­point PK-5 neigh­bor­hood af­ter a lo­cal Mus­lim taxi driver had his throat slashed, spark­ing fears of a re­turn to the deadly sec­tar­ian killings which erupted in late 2013.

That wave of vi­o­lence, which pit­ted Chris­tians against Mus­lims and lasted for sev­eral months, was trig­gered by the oust­ing of pres­i­dent Fran­cois Boz­ize, a Chris­tian, by mainly Mus­lim Seleka rebels.

U.N. rights in­ves­ti­ga­tors said ear­lier this year that es­ti­mates of be­tween 3,000 and 6,000 dead in that bout of fight­ing failed to cap­ture “the full mag­ni­tude of the killing that oc­curred.”

AP

French peace­keep­ing sol­diers, cen­ter right, pa­trol the city of Ban­gui, Cen­tral African Re­pub­lic, Wed­nes­day, Sept. 30.

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