Voice of America (Washington, DC)

25 December 2013

Central African Republic: African Union - CAR Tension Reduced After Troops Increase

Photo: Amnesty International
Graffiti calling for the president to step down amid the ongoing crisis.

Violence in the Central African Republic (CAR) has gradually decreased following increased joint patrols by African led forces and French troops in the capital, Bangui, and other parts of the country, according Eloi Yao, African Union spokesman.

Yao says the African Union is encouraged by a joint statement issued by interim President Michele Djotodia, Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye and religious leaders in the country, who called for unity and an end to the violence that has displaced thousands from their homes.

The African-led international support mission in the CAR [MISCA] recently took over control from troops from the Economic Community of Central African States [MICOPAX].

"There has been tension and frustrations that have built up over the days but since the transfer of authority between MISCA and MICOPAX with the support from the French, our forces are trying to cover all eight districts in Bangui and also some affected areas," said Yao. "So [violent acts] are decreasing. There were some demonstrations, but not as violent as they used to be."

Doctors without Borders, a medical aid group says violence in the CAR has left nearly 200 people injured over the past five days.

Last week, Amnesty International said more than 1,000 people had been killed in Bangui since violence flared earlier this month.

Yao says the joint press statement from the country's political and religious leaders could help ease tension.

"I think it was a very positive gesture seeing all the leaders together; the prime minister of the transition the president and all the religious leaders together emphasizing the message of national unity, and [calling] for peace. It was a nice seeing all of them together to speak from the same script," said Yao.

France has deployed over 1,000 troops to boost its military presence in its former colony in a bid to bring security to CAR.

Yao says tensions in violence-prone areas in Bangui and other parts of the country have dropped since an increase in joint patrols by MISCA forces with support from the French troops.

"The plans are not for Bangui alone, but for all the areas that are affected. It cannot only be in Bangui because we have to think about the areas where there [is] violence. So our forces are working in other parts of the country with support from our partners, mainly the French," said Yao.

He says CAR citizens have been helped by cooperating with intelligence gathering in efforts to disarm armed groups accused of attacking civilians.

"There is work that is being done in terms of intelligence to be able to find out who the perpetrators are so they can disarm those people, and then bring some calm to the capital and also to other areas in the interior," said Yao.

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