Rebels go looting in C. African Republic: lawmakers
Rebels of the Seleka coalition, formed late last year, have looted several towns in the south of the Central African Republic (CAR), causing residents to flee, local officials said.
“The Seleka rebels laid siege to Satema this weekend, that’s to say Saturday. They also positioned men in the town and came back on Sunday, the weekly market day. Several people were robbed of their goods, and hundreds of others fled to take refuge in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” local lawmaker Kohotro Mbomba told AFP late Tuesday.
“I call on the Seleka leaders, on the prime minister and on the president of the republic to do all that is in their power to halt the suffering of the population,” he added.
Reports of looting have emerged in recent days, with rebels accused by the government of failing to respect a ceasefire deal agreed in the Gabonese capital Libreville earlier this month.
UN premises and those of several international organisations were looted, UN special envoy Margaret Vogt said last week.
At Alindao, a central southern town under Seleka control, rebels destroyed police posts and the town hall, said Moise Kotaye, a lawmaker from the town. “They went to the church to carry off many things belonging to the nuns, the priests, including motorcycles of the Catholic charity Caritas.”
“Seleka officials say that these are uncontrolled elements, but they are a mob who destroy, loot and sack in total impunity. Seleka recruited them, they are not foreigners. They are deprived young people…,” Kotaye added.
One of Seleka’s military leaders, Colonel Djouma Narkoyo, told AFP that “each time we receive information (about such activity), we verify it and we send men to catch the insurgents. That’s how those behind attacks at Dimbi (centre south) were arrested and sent to Sam Ouandja” in the northeast.
Last week, Seleka rebels attacked a diamond mining zone at Dimbi as well as the town of Kembe, carrying out “looting” and “murders” according to the defence ministry.
After a lightning armed offensive launched in December from northern CAR, the rebels on January 11 agreed at peace talks in Gabon to peace and to withdraw from cities they had seized.
In exchange, President Francois Bozize’s regime agreed to the appointment of a prime minister from the opposition and the formation of a government of national unity.
On January 17, prominent opposition figure and lawyer Nicolas Tiangaye was named prime minister during a ceremony in Bangui that brought together all the parties to the conflict.
Last week UN envoy Vogt warned that foreign troops needed to stay in the country to ensure that CAR did not “become another Mali.”