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CAR rebels seek out looters in post-coup chaos

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-03-27

As chaos reigns in Central African Republic’s capital Bangui in the wake of Sunday’s coup d’état, the Seleka rebels who seized the city are trying to end a wave of rampant looting. FRANCE 24 reports.

The Seleka rebels which seized the capital of Central African Republic on Sunday have launched intensive stop and search patrols after the city descended into chaos following their coup d’état.

Thousands of fighters belonging to the Seleka rebel alliance took hold of the city in a two-day assault under self-proclaimed president Michel Djotodia, who accused longtime president, François Bozizé, of cronyism and breaking peace accords.

But the rebels are struggling to restore order as bandits and gunmen roam the city, home to 600,000 people. Leaders of the loose coalition of three rebel movements have vowed to combat rampant looting across the capital.

General of Operations Arda Harkouma told FRANCE 24 on Tuesday that his rebel forces were targeting alleged supporters of ousted President Bozizé, “one by one”. Suspects are forced to undress in the street and any weapons found are confiscated. Harkouma said his soldiers were able to identify supporters of Bozizé “just by looking at them”.

He accused some bandits of dressing up as Seleka members in order to seize goods.

Some 1,000 regional forces from the five-nation FOMAC alliance and around 150 French forces are also present in the capital. “The French forces are there primarily to ensure the security of French citizens and their evacuations,” FRANCE 24’s Sarah Sakho, who produced the report, said.

Residents suffering

Despite an overnight curfew, looting continues across the city. Aid workers have warned of a humanitarian crisis as food supplies run low. Water supplies were resumed on Tuesday but power remained down for a fourth day.

The local head of Doctors Without Borders describes the dire situation in Bangui

Sunday’s coup was the latest political turmoil to destabilise Central African Republic, which despite rich deposits of gold, diamonds and uranium, remains one of the world’s least developed nations.

Since independence from France in 1960, the country has suffered a series of coups and rebellions.

On Monday, rebel leader Michel Djotodia spoke publicly for the first time since overthrowing Bozizé, saying that he planned to stay in power until 2016. Bozizé, who himself seized power in a 2003 coup, fled to neighbouring Cameroon on Sunday.

 

Date created : 2013-03-27

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