CAR: Rebels Kill, Loot With Impunity – HRW

The Seleka, a coalition of rebel group that took power in the Central African Republic (CAR) in March, shoots, loots and rapes with “complete impunity,” Human Rights Watch has said.
Armed seleka rebels
Armed seleka rebels

In a report released on Wednesday, the rights organization said the rebels have embarked on a reign of terror, and urged the United Nations and African states to take a tougher line with the transitional government.

“With no checks on their power, the Seleka rule arbitrarily and with complete impunity,” said the report, which detailed scores of killings of women, children and the elderly by the rebels.
The report, titled “I Can Still Smell The Dead,” also alleged that the rebels engaged in wanton destruction of homes and villages.

Seleka leaders “talk openly” about the way they kill people and burn villages, said Lewis Mudge, who wrote the report.

The report said interim President Michel Djotodia, a former Seleka leader, had denied the rebels were involved in the violence against people, and put the blame on the followers of former President Francois Bozize or “fake Seleka.”

CAR President Michel Djotodia recently dissolved the seleka rebels
CAR President Michel Djotodia recently dissolved the seleka rebels

Djotodia announced on Friday that the Seleka rebel group had been dissolved, without saying how he would disarm the group.

“The Seleka Coalition is dissolved over the length and breadth of the Central African Republic’s territory. Only the Central African security force is in charge of protecting our territorial integrity,” the new president said in a statement.

“Any individual or group of individuals who acts in the name of Seleka after the publication of the present decree… will incur the full sanctions under the law,” it added.

A recent UN report said that Djotodia’s Seleka fighters, many of whom have not been paid in months, were to blame for much of the chaos and that the group’s hierarchy is doing little to stop them.

It listed “arbitrary arrests and detention, sexual violence against women and children, torture, rape, targeted killings, recruitment of child soldiers and attacks, committed by uncontrolled Seleka elements and unidentified armed groups throughout the country.”

The Seleka rebels launched an offensive against the CAR government in December 2012.

On January 11, then President Bozize and the representatives of the Seleka rebels signed an agreement in Libreville, Gabon, after three days of negotiations brokered by regional neighbors.

However, the deal fell through, and Djotodia, leading thousands of Seleka rebels, captured Bangui and proclaimed himself president after seizing power from Bozizé on March 24.

There are many mineral resources, including gold and diamond, in the Central African Republic. However, the country is extremely poor and has faced a series of rebellions and coups since it gained independence in 1960.

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