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Central African Republic: Fr. Juan Aguirre warns that Jihadist groups have control over the country

Juan Aguirre

Only one month after the president of the Central African Republic accepted a peace agreement with 14 out of the 18 armed groups in the country, some of the most prominent militias have already threatened to break the agreement.

At least two armed groups of the Republic, the ‘Union for the Peace in the Central African Republic’ and the ‘Democratic Front of the People’ want to discontinue the peace agreement that was intended to bring about an ‘inclusive government,’ and a period of relative peace in the country.

The peace agreement was crucial for the Central African Republic given that armed groups have been continuously intimidating citizens. One of the 14 groups was responsible for a massacre in Alindo last November,  where a cathedral and a Christian refugee camp that housed twenty thousand people were violently attacked. As a result of the assault, thousands of people had to escape into the forest. Two priests were killed in the ambush–one of them was burnt alive.

The Central African Republic has been suffering from a wave of violence since 2013, and armed groups regularly attack the civilian population. This has led to the setting up of self-defence style “anti-Balaka” groups, thus heightening the tension in the region.

So far, this conflict has forced 1.2 million people to flee from their homes. A further 2.5 million people depend on humanitarian aid in the country for survival.

Mgr. Juan Aguirre, the Bishop of Bangassou, is one of the biggest opponents of violence in the country. Two weeks ago, he told a Spanish newspaper that the members of these military groups are murderers and should be convicted by the courts. The government has yet to act against the perpetrators and stands accused of trying to offer ministerial positions to some of the leaders.

The bishop directed most of his criticism against the Séléka group that controls a vast territory; they are present in extensive parts of Sudan, Chad, and Nigeria. Over the last few years, the Séléka have frequently carried our raids in the territories of Bakouma, Bambari, and Lppy, injuring innocent people.

In Bakouma, for example, they attacked a camp of nine thousand refugees. Four thousand people had to flee to the forest, and when they did return to Bakoma, they had to bury the victims of the raid in mass graves.

The Bishop is worried that the agreement subscribed by the government may add to the division of the country, and cause even more violence. The signatories purportedly accepted it, but behind the scenes,  continue with their dangerous activities.

Source : FundacaoAIS

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