AROUND AFRICA: C.A.R. Violence Continues; U.S. Special Ops Chasing Kony

September 30, 2015 at 10:56 pm Leave a comment

U.N. peacekeepers and Central African Republic National Police conduct a joint operation in the capital Bangui. Photo: UN/MINUSCA/Nektarios Markogiannis

U.N. peacekeepers and Central African Republic National Police conduct a joint operation in the capital Bangui.
Photo: UN/MINUSCA/Nektarios Markogiannis

The interim president of Central African Republic (C.A.R.) left the United Nations General Assembly opening in New York early this week because of the worst violence this year has broken out in the nation’s  capital, Bangui.

President Catherine Samba-Panza arrived home Wednesday (September 30), according to Reuters (via the Voice of America website), but has yet to make a public statement.

At least 39 people have died in inter-communal clashes, raising doubts about a planned election in mid October.The vote is aimed at restoring democracy to a country following a rebellion and years of turmoil. The violence broke out despite appeals by world leaders and local politicians and the presence of French and United Nations peacekeepers.

Thousands of Central Africans have died and hundreds of thousands remain displaced after two years of violence that erupted after mainly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in the majority Christian country in 2013. Seleka abuses sparked reprisals by Christian “anti-balaka” fighters that drove most Muslims from the south in a de facto partition of the country.

Protesters alleged U.N. peacekeepers and French forces did little to intervene in violence Saturday (September 26) and called for the sidelined Central African army, the FACA, to assume responsibility for security, Al Jazeera reported. French and U.N. forces have been trying to halt the violence since first intervening in December 2013. About 900 French soldiers remain in the former French colony, down from about 2,000 last year.

On Tuesday (September 29) United Nations officials continued to voice their concern over the situation – where more than 30 people have been killed, over 100 have been wounded and thousands are seeking shelter amid the recent upsurge in violence. U.N. officials stressed the need for free movement for aid workers to reach those in need.

According to the UN peacekeeping mission in the country (MINUSCA), tensions persist in Bangui, which was the scene of attacks against civilians, violence between communities and attacks against humanitarian personnel since a young Muslim man was murdered on Saturday.

“MINUSCA is conducting patrols around critical areas, with the view of protecting civilians, including one Muslim and two Christian districts in Bangui,” U.N. spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric told reporters in New York.

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Special Ops in C.A.R.

Central African Republic (Map from CIA orld Factbook)

Central African Republic
(Map from CIA World Factbook)

Amid the violence in the Central African Republic comes news that U.S. special operations forces aiding in the search for the brutal warlord Joseph Kony are camped out “in a lawless enclave” in the C.A.R. on the borders of Sudan and South Sudan,” the Washington Post reports.

Citing military officials and others familiar with the operation, the Post reports the U.S. special operators are dealing with “some unsavory partners to help find Kony’s trail”  — the Muslim Seleka rebels, whose brutal actions two years ago spawned the chaos in the C.A.R.

Tht Post said the arrangement has made some U.S. troops uncomfortable. The Seleka rebels “are playing us,” one military official who spoke on the condition of anonymity told the Post. The official described Seleka as a “mafia” that is trying to curry favor with the Americans even as the rebels extort local villagers and engage in illicit trade with Kony’s fugitive fighters.

President Obama first sent U.S. forces to central Africa in 2011 to aid several African militaries hunt Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army, which has terrorized Central Africa for more than two decades.  Obama will have decide in October whether to reauthorize the deployment and extend it for at least another year.

Several members of Congress think that is exactly what he should do, according to The Hill newspaper. “The United States and other members of the international community must retain our resolve to capture or remove the leaders of the (Lord’s Resistance Army) and any terrorist group the threaten the lives and well being of innocent people worldwide,” said Representative Christopher Smith, a New Jersey Republican and chairman of the Africa Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations in the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Rep. Karen Bass, a California Democrat and ranking member on the subcommittee, echoed Smith’s sentiments. Noting that it’s been reported the LRA has dwindled to perhaps as few as small as 200 fighters. “Their intimate knowledge of the inhospitable central African landscapes and total disregard for human life continues to make them a clear and present danger,” she said. Bass called on her colleagues in Congress as well as other U.S. government agencies “to sustain our efforts to rid central Africa of Joseph Kony.”

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Entry filed under: Africa, Army, Counter Insurgency, Counter Terrorism, International Crime, National Security and Defense, News Developments, Peacekeeping, Unconventional Warfare. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .

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