Hundreds march to rearm soldiers in Central African Republic

Hundreds of people march for support to combat militia violence and inter-religious reprisal attacks that have killed around 90 people in Bangui, Central African Republic since late September

Photo by: AFP (Archive)
Photo by: AFP (Archive)

Soldiers of the European Union Force RCA (EUFOR RCA) patrol in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic.

Hundreds of people marched through the Capital of Central African Republic on Wednesday, in an effort to demand weapons for army which has been sidelined since rebels took power in 2013.

Transitional parliament members took part during the march requesting weapons for the army to fight militia violence and inter-religious reprisal attacks that claimed almost 90 people in Bangui since last September.

In the latest violence, Christian anti-balaka militia fighters repeatedly attacked the convoy escorting through the city, a UN peacekeeping mission said.   

"Suspected anti-balaka combatants attacked a commercial convoy being escorted by the mission on three separate occasions," spokesman Stephane Dujarric told journalists at the UN's headquarters in New York.

According to witnesses, three civilians were killed when UN soldiers opened fire.

The ongoing disputes contributed to a plan to delay presidential and parliamentary election until Dec. 13 which also raised doubts over a scheduled visit by Pope Francis by the end of this month.

"We need elections, a new constitutional order and a new government to restart the army with a national sensibility," General Mohamed Dhaffane told Reuters.

"We need our defence and security forces if we are going to make the country safe," Alexandre Ferdinand Nguedet, president of the transitional council, told the marchers. 

He urged for the army's alliance with the UN peacekeeping force, MINUSCA, within a week, however he declined to say what measures he and his supporters would take if the plan failed.

Interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has made appeal to restore the army's weapons, during his speech at the United Nations on Monday, claiming that, the peacekeepers and French troops had failed to protect civilians. 

Thousands of Central Africans have died and hundreds of thousands were forced to leave their homes, following two-years of violence that erupted as the Muslim Seleka rebels came to power in the Christian dominated country in 2013.

After overthrowing President Francois Bozize, Seleka leader Michel Djotodia took over the nation as president, until he was pressured into resigning by regional leaders in 2014. Shortly after, the National Transitional Council elected Catherine Samba-Panza as the interim president.

TRTWorld and agencies