AT least 50 people, including two former members of the Central African Republic (CAR) Parliament, have been arrested and arbitrarily detained in Bangui where a tensed climate continues to persist, a human rights observer said on Tuesday.
The town has been under a curfew between 7 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. local time that was declared by President Francois Bozize last week due to the advancement of the fighters of Seleka coalition of rebel groups which is demanding his departure. "There have been some arrests and some deaths. The people were arrested and detained by the criminal investigation officers. We are speaking of about 50 people who include two ex- parliamentarians," Fulgence Zeneth, who is a member of the Central African Republic's Human Rights Observatory (OCDH), told Xinhua on phone from Bangui.
According to the human rights defender, the two ex- parliamentarians whose identity he did not reveal, were originally from Birao and Ouanda Djalle, two localities in the country's North-Eastern parts which are under the control of the rebels. With 4,600 fighters, the Seleka coalition took up arms on Dec. 10 to remove Bozize from power. Bozize had himself come to power through a coup d'etat against the regime of the late president Ange-Felix Patasse, on March 15, 2003.Having come closer to Bangui since the capture of Sibut locality which is situated 180 km North of the capital, the rebels have threatened to directly attack the government in the capital in case of the failure of talks that have been recommended by the Economic Community of Central African States (CEEAC) and the African Union (AU).
Unconfirmed figures from the rebels which Xinhua obtained indicated that within the last three days of fighting, over 100 people have died and they include 93 officers of the regular army and 12 people among the rebels. The Territorial Administration Minister Josue Binoua, who spoke to Xinhua on Sunday, said that the assailants had looted and destroyed the country's only sugar factory in the eastern town of Bambari. Speaking from the OCDH offices in Bangui, Zeneth expressed concern over the prevailing humanitarian situation in the country. He noted that there was lack of formal engagement from the government authorizing humanitarian organizations to carry out their activities for the benefit of the people who have been affected by the new crisis.
Zeneth further noted that in the capital, the prices of the basic foodstuffs had risen because the main supply routes have been closed. "The climate is still tensed. There was no any celebrations over the end of year period. People are living in fear and they are just praying. There's a lot of uncertainty and no one really knows what is going to happen in the coming days," Zeneth said while also accusing the two parties of lacking a real desire to hold dialogue in order to end the suffering of the people.He expressed doubts over the outcome of the talks if they ever take place between Bozize and his adversaries."There were already talks in this country, especially the 2008 talks that were held in Libreville, Gabon. I do not think that anything will come from talks expected to take place in future," Zeneth said.He appealed for the involvement of the civil society in the organization of the Libreville dialogue, noting that previous agreements were signed by the government, the armed groups and the civil society groups.