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The ‘Somalization of Central African Republic

June 26, 2013 by Open Doors in General

Central Africa

Open Doors workers in Central Africa Republic (CAR) have asked that we pray for their troubled nation. “Please pray that God will intervene in our country!” wrote the co-worker adding, that there is not one single day that citizens are not robbed in what locals are calling the ‘Somalization’ of the country.

The CAR was plunged into chaos after a rebel coalition called Seleka overthrew the regime of Franis Bozize in March, forcing him to flee the country. “Seleka rebels and their chiefs have turned CAR into a wild state, a gangster state, a jungle,” said the worker. A most recent example is when a Seleka colonel in Nola, sent soldiers to kidnap a girl aged 13 whom he later raped. When the girl’s parents tried to intervene, soldiers assaulted them. “In the Seleka movement soldiers are only answerable to their commander and not to the president,” wrote the co-worker.

A new government in CAR was installed on June 16. Although some opposition politicians have been included, the government is dominated by Seleka. Sources in CAR say the government is continuing corruption and economic injustice that has plagued the nation for years. In unconfirmed reports, Muslims have been exempt from paying taxes, and government officials are accused of destroying the forestry industry through corruption. “They destroy the forest without paying taxes and send the wood directly to Chad and Sudan.”

In addition to the political tension, a significant risk of interfaith conflict looms over the Central African Republic (CAR), according to World Watch Monitor. Numerous acts of violence, perpetrated by members of the rebellion, have created a climate of tension between Christians, who make up nearly half of a population estimated at around 4.6 million, and Muslims, who comprise 15%.

The two religious communities have coexisted previously without incident, with a strong Muslim presence in the north and Christians dominating the south. But now the Christian community is claiming some of its Muslim neighbors have become accomplices to Seleka’s acts of violence, which are said to include mass murder, looting, theft and the destruction of property. Christians say they feel particularly targeted.

As a result the leaders of the two main religions in the country – Christianity and Islam – have decided to speak with one voice. Catholic, Protestant and Muslim leaders met on June 10-11, under the auspices of the international NGO Mercy Corps, and agreed to act together in order to find a solution to the growing unrest. The meeting was of great importance, said Imamthe person who leads prayers in a mosque. Omar Kobine Layama, President of the Islamic Council in the CAR. It helped to reinforce the position of religious leaders and their importance in seeking a resolution to the conflict, he added.

“We have started dialogue between Muslims, Catholics and Protestants to calm the situation down, otherwise this country is likely to explode,” the Bishop of Bangassou, Juan Jose Aguirre Munos, told the Catholic Fides Agency. “We are offering an opportunity for dialogue so that the life of the population can be brought back to normal.”

In April, the Catholic clergy in the country sent a letter to the rebel leader-turned President of the CAR. In the letter, titled ‘No more things like that… Standing up against impunity’, the Church implored Michel Djotodia to break his silence against Seleka’s members for acts of violence, and to explain the existence of an earlier letter written by Djotodia that showed his desire to turn the CAR into an Islamic republic.

An appeal later launched to pleaded with Catholics, Protestants and Muslims to cooperate with an initiative aimed at preventing an increase of religious fundamentalism in the country. As part of the initiative, four imams, four priests and four pastors will receive training on how to prevent conflicts. Then they will visit a number of cities to organize awareness meetings on conflict prevention.

Several countries and international institutions had suspended their aid to the CAR after the seizure of power by the rebels, with the resumption of their cooperation conditional on the restoration of constitutional order. If nothing is done, the current instability could evolve into a major crisis and the “Central African Republic will become the Somalia of central Africa”, warned NGO groups. “This institutional no man’s land could attract terrorists from Nigeria and Mali, or the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), which would easily find refuge in this country with 4.6 million inhabitants, spread over 240,000 square miles,” they wrote.

Heavenly Father, we pray today for the nation of Central African Republic. Much bloodshed and sorrow has occurred, and will most likely continue; so we ask, on our knees, for You to intercede. Father God, work on the hearts of the leaders in the United Nations and African Union so that the will do more to help. Also, we ask for You to provide for and protect the estimated 180,000 people who have been displaced in this crisis. They are in desperate need of not only sustenance but also for hope. Strengthen the church leaders so that they can be Your arms, hands and feet and comfort those who have suffered so much. Lastly Father, we pray for emotional and physical healing of the 13 year old girl that was kidnapped and raped. She shares the fate of countless other women who have fallen victim to lawless rebels. In the precious name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Source: Open Doors New; World Watch Monitor report

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