17 dead in CAR as Djotodia loses control, calls for military back-up

17 dead in CAR as Djotodia loses control, calls for military back-up

Central African Republic coup leader Michel Djotodia, who legitimised his rule after being elected by the National Council of Transition on Sunday, seems to be losing control over the country he helped ‘liberate’ from dictator Francois Bozizé on 24 March 2013.

His Seleka rebels – ill-disciplined, hungry and cruel – have been seen last weekend looting residents’ property in the capital Bangui, beating people and shooting into the crowd, causing the death of 17 civilians and injuring scores, according to a provisionary toll released by the Red Cross.

Troops from FOMAC (Force Militaire de l’Afrique Centrale) were due to arrive soon in Bangui to restore some calm in the capital city, which has become a platform of violence and looting since the late March coup d’état that put Djotodia in power.

Residents in Bangui said they did not trust the Seleka rebels and resented their presence in the capital city.

Several people from Bangui have reportedly crossed the Oubangui River to seek refuge in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to join the already-settled 35 000 displaced by the conflict, according to the UN Refugee Agency.

This impoverished but mineral-rich nation has been on the edge since the Seleka rebels, believed to be armed by Chad, made a triumphal entry into the capital as their sworn-enemy Bozize and his loyalists fled initially to the DRC, and later to Cameroon.

Politically unstable CAR is a coup d’état-prone country, and it remains unclear whether Djotodia will last in the hot seat, as reports from Bangui suggest that two rebel groups have been seen roaming in the northern bushes, ready to attack.

*Photo: The ill-disciplined rebels of Seleka, of the Central African Republic.

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