CAR's Seleka fighters march on anti-balaka stronghold

The commanders, who asked not to be named, told Anadolu Agency the move aims to force interim president Catherine Zampa-Panza to abide by the Ndjamena deal signed in the capital of Chad on January 10.

CAR's Seleka fighters march on anti-balaka stronghold

Hundreds of the seleka militiamen on Sunday march on Bossangoa, a city to the north of the Central African Republic capital considered to be a stronghold of the anti-balaka militia, according to seleka filed commanders.

The commanders, who asked not to be named, told Anadolu Agency the move aims to force interim president Catherine Zampa-Panza to abide by the Ndjamena deal signed in the capital of Chad on January 10.

Under the agreement, interim president Michel Djotodia, a seleka leader, stepped down to open the way for a new transitional period in the troubled country.

According to the deal, the presidency was supposed to go to the Christian majority while the seleka, believed to be largely Muslims, would get the premiership.

But President Zampa-Panza, a Christian, later appointed Andre Nzapayeke, a Christian technocrat, as prime minister.

Around 400 seleka members are assembled in de Sido, a village near Bossangoa, to fill the tanks of their vehicles before marching on, a seleka leader told AA.

More fighters were expected to join on the way to Bossangoa, he added, declining to be named.

The announcement, however, has not been confirmed by the government or the Christian anti-balaka militia.

Seleka commanders ruled out, meanwhile, the possibility of clashing with African troops while advancing to flush out the anti-balaka militiamen from Bossangoa.

"If the French troops attack us, we would respond and defend ourselves," one commander told AA.

"We are ready to go to the farthest point to achieve our goal, even if this pits us against the French troops," said Ali al-Hadji, a seleka leader.

Adam Ali, another seleka leader, said they are no longer committed to remain inside their barracks, accusing President Zampa-Panza of breaching the Ndjamena power-sharing deal.

"We are ready to lay down our arms if the president honors the terms of the agreement," he added.

Ali said violations are being committed against Central African Muslims with total impunity.

"Anti-balaka had destroyed 370 mosques so far," said the seleka general. "We haven't touched one single church."

The mineral-rich country descended into anarchy one year ago when Seleka rebels ousted Christian President Francois Bozize, who had come to power in a 2003 coup.

Since last December, thousands, mostly Muslims, have been killed in sectarian bloodletting throughout the country blamed on the anti-balaka militia.

According to the UN refugee agency, around 173,000 people had been internally displaced while 37,000 others had fled to neighboring countries.

AA

Last Mod: 21 Nisan 2014, 16:11
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