The Anti-balaka is an alliance of militia groups based in the Central African Republic in the early 21st century said to be composed primarily of Christians. However, some church leaders have contested the claimed exclusively Christian character of such groups. The Tony Blair Faith Foundation and journalist Andrew Katz have noted that animists also participate in Anti-balaka groups.
|Leaders|| Maxime Mokom|
Patrice Edouard Ngaissona
|Dates of operation||2013–present|
|Headquarters||Bossangoa (until 2021)|
|Active regions||Central African Republic|
|Part of||Coalition of Patriots for Change (since 2020)|
|Opponents||Séléka and splinter groups (until 2020)|
|Battles and wars||Central African Republic Civil War (2012–present)|
This militia formed in the Central African Republic after the rise to power of Michel Djotodia in 2013. Amnesty International reported in 2015 that some members of anti-balaka groups have forcibly converted Muslims to Christianity. Anti-balaka groups have also kidnapped, burnt and buried alive in public ceremonies women accused of being 'witches'.
Though "anti-balaka" is often translated as "antimachete", its origin is explained:
[It is] from the language of the young illiterates, who formed Seleka's armed opposition, and who chased the Muslim 'anti-balles à ti laka' (anti ti laka bullets). The term 'laka' in the street language of the Central African Republic means an AK-47. The anti-balakas are therefore the bearers of grigris meant to stop Kalashnikov bullets.
Some commentators have said that village militias formed in the 1990s to protect against highwaymen were a precursor to the Antibalaka. Unable to provide security throughout the remote areas of the country, President François Bozizé organized, self-protection groups in 2009 to combat crime on the village level; these took the name Antibalaka.
In March 2013, President Bozizé (a Christian) was overthrown by a coup during the Central African Republic Civil War by a mostly Muslim rebel coalition known as Séléka. The leader of the Séléka, Michel Djotodia, became the first Muslim president of the country. With the disbanding of the army by Djotodia, many army members joined the militia, boosting their numbers and helping train them.
Djotodia announced the dissolution of the Séléka in September 2013, but most of the militias refused to disband. The Séléka and the anti-balaka engaged in a cycle of increasing violence.
As many Christians had more settled lifestyles and many Muslims were nomadic, competing claims to the land were another dimension of the tensions. In November 2013, the UN warned that the country was at risk of spiraling into genocide, and was "descending into complete chaos". France described the country as "... on the verge of genocide". On 2 December 2013, anti-balaka militiamen are suspected to have killed 12 people, including children, and wounded 30 others in an attack on the mostly-Muslim Fula in Boali, according to the government. This was amidst the Central African Republic conflict under the Djotodia administration.
Early 2014 marked a turning point; hardened by war and massacres, the anti-balaka committed multiple atrocities. In December 2013, UNICEF reported that in sectarian violence in Bangui, at least two children were beheaded and one of them was mutilated. In 2014, Amnesty International reported several massacres committed by anti-balaka militias against Muslim civilians, forcing thousands of Muslims to flee the country.
On 17 December 2020 Anti-balaka joined Coalition of Patriots for Change. On 26 December Anti-balaka fighters from Kaga-Bandoro attacked Dekoa killing three Burundian peacekeepers. Three militiamen were arrested by MINUSCA forces.
List of Anti-balaka leadersEdit
- Maxim Mokom – leader of Mokom branch. One of the signatories of 2019 peace agreement.
- Dieudonné Ndomate – leader of Ngaïssona branch. One of the signatories of 2019 peace agreement. Arrested on 11 May 2021 in Bouca.
- Patrice Edouard Ngaissona – former leader of Anti-balaka. Arrested in December 2018 in France.
- Eric Danboy Bagale – arrested in September 2020 in France.
- Habib Soussou – Anti-balaka leader in Boda since 11 April 2014 and in Lobaye since 28 June 2014. Subject to UN sanctions. On 1 June 2018, he was promoted by decree of the Minister of Defense as a master-corporal of armed forces.
- Marcel Ndale – leader of Anti-balaka in Bouar.
- "How to prevent a return to violence in the Central African Republic". October 2020.
- "Christian militias take bloody revenge on Muslims in Central African Republic". Guardian. 10 March 2014. Retrieved 29 January 2018.
- "There are no Christian militias killing Muslims in the Central African Republic". Aid to the Church in Need. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
- Emily Mellgard. "What is the Antibalaka?". tonyblairfaithfoundation. Archived from the original on 27 September 2016. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
- Andrew Katz (May 29, 2014). "'A Question of Humanity': Witness to the Turning Point In Central African Republic". Time.
- C.Africa militia is an enemy of peace: French commander, apa.az, recovered 14 March 2014
- Central African Republic: Unprotected Muslims forced to abandon religion, Amnesty International UK (July 31, 2015).
- Esslemont, Tom. "Witch burning rebels stoke Central African Republic violence". U.S. Retrieved 2018-04-11.
- See: "La République centrafricaine: le naufrage d'un Etat, l'agonie d'une Nation», Didier Niewiadowski", Revue d'étude et de recherche sur le droit et l'administration dans les pays d'Afrique, May 2014, quoted in Blood Timber, How Europe Helped Fund War in the Central African Republic (Report), End Notes n. 21, p. 48
- "Religious tensions rise in C.Africa after coup". AFP. March 31, 2013. Retrieved December 4, 2013.
- "CAR's Djotodia dissolves Seleka rebel group". AFP. 13 September 2013. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
- "Unspeakable horrors in a country on the verge of genocide". AFP. 22 November 2013. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
- "CAR's death toll much higher than thought, says Amnesty". BBC News. 19 December 2013. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
- "'We Live and Die Here Like Animals'". Foreign Policy. 13 November 2013. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
- "UN warning over Central African Republic genocide risk". BBC News. 4 November 2013. Retrieved 4 December 2013.
- "BBC News - Central African Republic 'descending into chaos' - UN". BBC News. 26 November 2013. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
- "France says Central African Republic on verge of genocide". Reuters. 21 November 2013. Retrieved 4 December 2013.
- "Central African Republic militia 'killed' children". BBC News. 4 December 2013. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
- Mark Tran & agencies, Children 'beheaded and mutilated' in Central African Republic, says Unicef, The Guardian (December 30, 2013).
- "Christian threats force Muslim convoy to turn back in CAR exodus". The Guardian. 14 February 2014. Retrieved 17 February 2014.
- "French photojournalist Camille Lepage killed in Central African Republic". the Guardian. May 13, 2014. Retrieved Feb 16, 2021.
- Centrafrique : Déclaration de la Coalition des Patriotes pour le Changement, 18 December 2020
- Centrafrique : Résumé d’actualité de la semaine en 10 points, 9 January 2021
- "Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in the Central African Republic". Retrieved Feb 16, 2021.
- RCA : Dieudonné Ndomaté, ministre et ex-chef Anti-Balaka, serait arrêté, 11 May 2021
- "Situation in Central African Republic II: Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona arrested for crimes against humanity and war crimes". 12 December 2018.
- "Central African Republic: Ex-officer arrested for war crimes". 19 September 2020.
- "HABIB SOUSSOU | United Nations Security Council". www.un.org. Retrieved Feb 16, 2021.
- Letter dated 14 December 2018 from the Panel of Experts on the Central African Republic established pursuant to resolution 2399 (2018) addressed to the President of the Security Council
- "Central African Republic: Former Anti-Balaka Chief Threatens Attack After Abduction Of Daughter By 3R Rebels". 28 September 2020.