Bangui, Central African Republic
By Joe Penney
On Thursday, the volatile Central African Republic was host to a bloodbath. Hours of fighting between the former “Seleka” rebels that took power in a March coup d’etat and local militia and fighters loyal to the deposed president, Francois Bozize, killed over a hundred. As the situation continues to deteriorate, France is set to take a bigger role in its former colony’s security, sending hundreds of troops in the coming days.
Yet while security is what is grabbing the headlines at the moment, CAR’s problems lie much deeper. Already an unstable state in the run-up to the coup, the Central African government is now in tatters and just going through the motions. During the coup, most ministry buildings were looted for cash, computers and anything hungry rebels could get their hands on. Little has since been replaced.
The Seleka rebels stole a computer from a state laboratory containing vital information on HIV patients’ medication. They even stole the minister of commerce’s car.
“We come to work with famine. We’re in debt. When we get our salaries they just go to pay our debt and then we go back to our lives of suffering – at this point there’s no longer a state,” said Flore Koyassambia-Nadege, a clerk at the national treasury.
Tensions between ex-Bozize cadres and the new Seleka guns in charge make for uneasy relations between government and military.