Saleka rebels in the Central African Republic reject ceasefire deal and demand the country to be partitioned between Muslims and Christians

BANGUI – The Central African Republic (CAR) civil war has been ongoing for two years now, between the Muslim Saleka rebels and the government forces.

Violence broke out when mainly Muslim rebels attempted to take power. Michel Djotodia, the Saleka leader declared himself as president of the country, which has a significantly high population of Christians in ratio to Muslims, and has since broken out to a war of ‘ethnic cleansing’.

Saleka means ‘union’ in the Sango language, and since its formation has seized many towns in the central and eastern regions of the country, in response to President Francois Bozize’s failure to follow the peace agreements signed in 2007 and 2011.

The rebel group consists of two major sub-groups, based in the northeastern CAR: the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR) and the Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (CPJP).

Last Thursday a ceasefire deal was made to end hostility between both sides. Saleka military chief – Joseph Zoundeiko – announced his forces will not follow the ceasefire that has been agreed upon, as the deal was negotiated without the input of the military wing of the Saleka alliance, and will therefore not comply. The UN has found that both rebel sides are responsible for perpetrating war crimes and torture of innocent civilians in the Central African Republic.

The ceasefire between the Muslim Saleka and the Christian anti-Balaka militia was signed in the capital Bangui. Since the violence or the ‘ethnic cleansing’ broke out, many Muslims – almost a quarter of the 4.6 million – have fled their homes, and according to the UN, 90% of the population are surviving only on one meal a day. About 390,000 of that figure are refugees, who have fled to seek security and safety in neighbouring countries.

Maj-Gen Zoundeiko has called for immediate partition between the Christians and Muslims, as the only means of peacefully co-existing within same nation without any further violence. He added that CAR as a nation “is finished”.

Political leaders from both sides say that reconciliation and ceasing hostility is possible between the Christian south and Muslim north. Zoundeiko refused to give information on how the country should be divided exactly, but blamed “our Christian brothers” for making peace impossible.

An overview of the population in CAR:

The country consists of:

Christians – 50%

Muslims – 15%

Indigenous belief – 35%

Amnesty International have named 20 people who are suspected of perpetrating war crimes in the country, and for committing atrocities of a serious magnitude, and should thus go be tried for breaching the international law.

— Ferhiyo Ismail Ali, Editor (Africa)

Image Courtesy: hdptcar, Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic | Wikimedia Commons