The president to the Central African Republic, Faustin Touadera, says young people in his country need vision and hope to stop them fleeing to Europe.
The war-scorched Central African Republic is the poorest country in the world, according to annual ranking by Global Finance Magazine. Roaming militias and bandits burn down villages (as seen above) and kill, rob and rape civilians with impunity. An estimated 600,000 are internally displaced and nearly as many have fled to neighboring countries for refuge. The United Nations says half of the population needs humanitarian assistance to survive.
In an interview with DW, the country's president, Faustin Touadera discussed some of the reasons for the conflict and the progress of a special court that will be charged with prosecuting grave crimes against humanity.
DW: You came to Europe to attend a conference in Brussels that aims to renew Europe's partnership with Africa. At the conference, you reminded those leaders in attendance of projects that already exist between the two regions, especially between Europe and your country, the Central African Republic.
Faustin Touadéra: The European Union is the Central African Republic's most important partner. Nowadays, this partnership is being designed together with Africans, that is, it incorporates our vision. This exchange is important so that we can better articulate new, concrete options for this partnership.
One name that repeatedly comes up when people talk about the Central African Republic is Bangassou, a town on the Congolese border that is still torn by militia violence. The security situation is extremely unstable there. What do you say to young people from Bangassou who want to emigrate to Europe?
Our country has many diamond and gold mines and these attract bandits and armed groups who want to enrich themselves. We are working with the United Nations to protect people and fight against this banditry, but these conflicts are why the population has no hope. If we can manage to contain the fighting and find peace and achieve national reconciliation, and if we can work with our partners to enable young people to have a vision and perspective for the future, then we will be able to get this problem under control.
Central African Republic established a Special Criminal Court in 2015 that deals with serious human rights violations and war crimes [from 2003 to 2015 - a period which saw a succession of armed conflicts and civil war]. But it seems the infrastructures and, above all, the money, is missing for this court to operate.
The Special Criminal Court is a state institution. We are asking our partners to help us strengthen our legal structures, especially for this court, which indeed needs money, and then it could start its work.
When exactly will that be?
We have created all the necessary structures. Now, we need to complete the building so that the judges and prosecutors can start their work.
Faustin Archange Touadera has been president of the Central African Republic since 2016.
The interview was conducted by Wendy Bashi.