The Central African Republic is a mess:
In this little-known country in the middle of Africa, a spree of killing is taking place. When the mostly Muslim Seleka overthrew the former president, François Bozizé, in March 2013, effective governance of the Central African Republic ceased to exist. Fiefdoms sprang up, ruled by Seleka leaders, some of whom had come from Chad and Sudan. They ruled through absolute terror, burning hundreds of villages and firing randomly on the terrified mostly Christian population whenever they encountered them. Although nominally disbanded in September 2013, the Seleka continued to terrorize civilians for several more months. A predominantly Christian group, the anti-balaka, then began to contest Seleka violence with its own abuses.
The Seleka’s self-appointed president, Michel Djotodia, was forced from power by the international community on January 10, 2014, and fled to exile in Benin. On a daily basis, many other Seleka leaders are fleeing, having realized that the game is over for them. General Isa, the former head of presidential security for the Seleka, told me: “Now, it is every officer for himself. We are all trying to find our own way out of here.”
In the aftermath of their flight, Muslim communities are facing the wrath of the Christian anti-balaka militia, originally created by Bozizé to fight banditry but now reformed to fight the Seleka, and the majority Christian civilians who suffered such terror for the last ten months. In town after town, the Muslim population, consisting of traders and nomadic, ethnic Peuhl cattle herders, have been attacked and massacred, their homes and mosques destroyed.
The top Muslim imam and Catholic archbishop in war-ravaged Central African Republic are coming together to advocate for peace and urge their communities to stop their brutal fighting.
“We are together to first prove to international opinion that the crisis is not religious,” Oumar Kobine Layama, president of the C.A.R. Islamic Community, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview that aired Tuesday.
“Religious temperament has been used for some people in order to reach their objectives, which is power,” he said.
The religious slant is a way for those in power to keep attention away from themselves and the UN out (conflict born out of religion or tribes are considered more difficult, which means there is less likely to be an intervention).