The interim leader of the Central Africa Republic has declared months of deadly chaos "over." He has ordered troops back to the capital and warned rebels and "looters" to cease all activities at the root of the unrest.
The head of the Central African Republic's (CAR) transitional council, Alexandre Ferdinand Nguendet, spoke out on Monday against the violence that has persisted after the resignation of country's president. He warned of dire consequences for those who continued carrying out attacks.
"The pillaging is over, the revenge attacks are over…the chaos is over. The Central African people must regain their honor," Nguendet told military officers in Bangui on Monday.
"If they continue, I order you in the name of the Republic to shoot at point blank range so that order can reign in this county," he said.
On Friday, President Michel Djotodia, CAR's first Muslim head of state, resigned after coming under international pressure for failing to end sectarian violence. Clashes between Islamist Seleka rebels and Christians had flared in December, leaving over 1,000 dead and displacing roughly one million people, according to figures from the United Nations.
Unrest continued over the weekend with reports of looting in the capital city Bangui, despite the presence of 1,600 French troops and 4,000 African union soldiers (pictured above).
"To the ex-Seleka, to the anti-balaka and the lovers of looting, I'm giving you a severe warning: The party is over," Nguendet said.
Redeployment for security forces
Order returned slowly to the capital on Monday. Initial reports indicated that police officers and some government troops had begun trickling back into Bangui after having fled the chaos and the unfolding humanitarian crisis in recent weeks.
Nguendet reiterated that government soldiers must return and that they would be "redeployed within 72 hours and would take part in the disarmament process." Any troops who failed to report back to duty would be considered deserters, he said.
The transitional government under the National Transitional Council (CNT), which Nguendet is heading, has a maximum of two weeks to select an interim president who will steer the country toward elections before the end of the year.
Turmoil has gripped CAR for many months. Ex-Djotodia rose to power last March with the help of the Islamist Seleka rebel group, which had led a coup against the government. By the fall, Djotodia attempted to ban the rebel faction. The country experienced renewed violence after Christian groups began carrying out retaliatory attacks against Seleka militants.
kms/ipj (AP, AFP, Reuters)