Séléka

Séléka CPSK-CPJP-UFDR was an alliance of rebel militia groups[1] that subjugated the Central African Republic (CAR) on 24 March 2013.[2][3][4] After its official dissolution in September 2013, the remaining rebel groups became known as Ex-Séléka. Séléka leader Michel Djotodia became the nation's president from March 2013 until his resignation in January 2014.[5][6] Members of Séléka were almost entirely Muslim.[7][8][9][10]

Séléka CPSK-CPJP-UFDR
LeadersMichel Djotodia
Joseph Zoundeiko (military wing)
Dates of operationSeptember 2012–2014
Group(s)
Opponents
Succeeded by
FPRC
UPC
MPC

NameEdit

The word Seleka means "Coalition" in Sango, one of the CAR's two national languages, the other being French.[11][12] The international media has shortened the full name Séléka CPSK-CPJP-UFDR to la Séléka in French or often Seleka in English.

The term Séléka had been used previously in CAR politics when Jean-Jacques Démafouth launched the political party New Alliance for Progress (French: Nouvelle Alliance pour le Progrès) with the Sango name Fini Seleka.[13]

BackgroundEdit

The rebel coalition originated in an agreement signed between factions of the Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (CPJP) and the Patriotic Convention for Saving the Country (CPSK), two of the CAR's many anti-government militias on 20 August 2012.[14] CPJP in this case refers to the "Fundamental" splinter group of the CPJP, one of many militias involved in the CAR's long-running civil war. A different faction of the CPJP signed a peace accord with the government on 25 August 2012.[citation needed]

The Seleka first emerged on 15 September 2012 under the name alliance CPSK-CPJP, when it published a press release taking responsibility for the attacks on three towns that day.[15] It was the last of the major rebel groups to do so.[16] The CPSK was hardly known.[16] On 15 December 2012 the group published its first press release using the full name "Séléka CPSK-CPJP-UFDR" thus including the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR). Two groups that did not appear in the title, the long-standing militia Democratic Front of the Central African People (FDPC), and the newly minted Alliance for Revival and Rebuilding (A2R), were also reportedly part of the alliance.[5]

The Seleka weren't an overtly religious movement, but they were mostly Muslim, as was Michel Djotodia, the president they installed in March 2013 after taking power.[citation needed]

Civil WarEdit

The fighters that ushered in Djotodia ran wild across the country during his time in office, plundering villages and killing Christians as well as supporters of the former president Francois Bozize.[17]

In September 2013 Michel Djotodia announced that Seleka had been dissolved.[18] The disbanded group has dispersed into the countryside and have been committing mass atrocities according to Human Rights Watch.[19][20][21][22][23] Executions, rape and looting by ex-Seleka fighters after the coup and disbanding have fomented religious tension where the population is 80% Christian.[24] Christian militias, using the name anti-balaka, have been formed to fight the Muslim Seleka.[8][9][19] In response, the United Nations considered sending troops to stop the atrocities,[25] and established the MINUSCA peacekeeping mission in September 2014.[26]

Ex-Séléka militiasEdit

 
Former combattants of the Seleka engaged in a DDR process, February 2017.

By 2015, there was virtually no government control outside of the capital, Bangui.[27] Armed entrepreneurs have carved out personal fiefdoms in which they set up checkpoints, collect illegal taxes, and take in millions of dollars from the illicit coffee, mineral, and timber trades.[27]

Months after the official dissolution of Seleka it was not known who in charge of Ex-Seleka factions during talks with Antibalaka until on 12 July 2014, Michel Djotodia was reinstated as the head of a faction of Séléka,[28] which renamed itself The Popular Front for the Rebirth of Central African Republic (FPRC), also translated as "The Popular Front for the Renaissance of Central African Republic".[29] Later in 2014, Noureddine Adam led the FPRC and began demanding independence for the predominantly Muslim north, a move rejected by another general, Ali Darassa.[30] He formed another Ex-Seleka faction called the Union for Peace in the Central African Republic (UPC) which is dominant in and around Bambari[27] while the FPRC's capital is in Bria.[31] Noureddine Adam declared the autonomous Republic of Logone on 14 December 2015; a spokesman for the Central African Republic's transitional government denounced the rebel's declaration. Another group is the Central African Patriotic Movement (MPC) founded by Mahamat Al Khatim.[31] Much of the violence in this phase of the conflict is between Ex-Seleka militias and is often ethnic in nature with the FPRC targeting Fulani people who largely make up the UPC and the UPC targeting the Gula and Runga people, who largely make up FPRC, as being sympathetic to FPRC.[30] Starting in November 2016, FPRC and MPC[31] allied with their former enemy, the Anti-balaka, and attacked UPC.[32][33] Most of the fighting is in the centrally located Ouaka prefecture, which has the country's second largest city Bambari, because of its strategic location between the Muslim and Christian regions of the country and its wealth.[31] The fighting displaced 20,000 with the FPRC singling out Fulani people.[34][33] In February 2017, Joseph Zoundeiko, the chief of staff of FPRC[35] who previously led the military wing of Seleka, was killed by MINUSCA after crossing one of the red lines.[33]

AtrocitiesEdit

On 18 September 2013, the Séléka killed scores of unarmed civilians, according to Human Rights Watch.[when?] The Séléka has also engaged in wanton destruction of numerous homes and villages. The 79-page report The Forgotten Human Rights Crisis in the Central African Republic details the deliberate killing of civilians – including women, children, and the elderly – between March and June 2013 and confirms the deliberate destruction of more than 1,000 homes, both in the capital, Bangui, and in the provinces. Many villagers have fled their homes and are living in the bush in fear of new attacks. Human Rights Watch documented the deaths of scores of people from injuries, hunger or sickness.

"Séléka leaders promised a new beginning for the people of the Central African Republic, but instead have carried out large-scale attacks on civilians, looting, and murder", said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "What's worse is that the Séléka have recruited children as young as 13 to carry out some of this carnage."

On 28 May 2014, the Séléka members threw grenades before shooting indiscriminately at the Church of Fatima in the capital Bangui, killing at least 11 people.[36] In July 2014, the government of Uganda declared that it was at war with Séléka, accusing them of forcing civilians to give food and medicine to the Lord's Resistance Army and of trading ivory and minerals with them. Séléka denied the accusation.[37]

Séléka leader Abdoulaye Issene said in an interview that: "We have killed, murdered and violated, but what happened, happened".[38][39]

On 9 November 2015, armed men cut the throats of 10 people in the village of Ndassima before carrying out an overnight attack nearby in Mala. Local administrator Yves Mbetigaza said "They came from two places, some from Bambari and others from Mbres." While a report on national radio described the attackers only as armed members of the Fula ethnic group (in French: Peul), Mbetigaza said they were Séléka fighters, adding that eight villagers were kidnapped in Mala and dozens of others were missing. On 12 November, six hunters were killed in the village of Bandambou.[40]

On 3 December 2015, the Séléka armed men killed eight civilians at a camp for displaced people and wounded one U.N. peacekeeper, just days after the pope visited the capital. The attacks took place at Ngakobo, about 60 km (40 miles) south of the central town of Bambari.[41]

Séléka often contends that mercenaries are to blame for the abuses. It is reported that official Séléka fighters are called for help to protect against mobs of ex-Séléka fighters.[27]

NotesEdit

  1. ^ RFI & 2012-12-20.
  2. ^ RFI & 2013-12-31.
  3. ^ Pflanz 2013.
  4. ^ Châtelot 2013.
  5. ^ a b RFI & 2013-03-24.
  6. ^ Reuters & 2013-03-24.
  7. ^ The Guardian: "Unspeakable horrors in a country on the verge of genocide - Militias in the Central African Republic are slitting children's throats, razing villages and throwing young men to the crocodiles. What needs to happen before the world intervenes?" by David Smith Archived 21 March 2020 at the Wayback Machine 22 November 2013
  8. ^ a b The Economist: "The Central African Republic - Ever darker" Archived 11 August 2017 at the Wayback Machine 8 November 2013
  9. ^ a b BBC: "Central African Republic: Religious tinderbox" Archived 12 November 2018 at the Wayback Machine 4 November 2013
  10. ^ Africa Report: "CAR: Muslim-Christian tension on the rise, since coup" By Konye Obaji Ori Archived 16 July 2018 at the Wayback Machine 6 November 2013
  11. ^ AFP & 2013-01-01.
  12. ^ Bouquiaux 1978, p. 307no entry exists for seleka between "sèlègbhia" (embassy) and "sèlèngbè (suffix)
  13. ^ Démafouth 2006.
  14. ^ Ibrahim & Abdraman 2012.
  15. ^ Alkassim 2012.
  16. ^ a b RFI 2012.
  17. ^ For Bangui's last Muslims, to stray outside the safe haven is to court death Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 2014-04-26.
  18. ^ "CAR's Djotodia dissolves Seleka rebel group". France 24. 13 September 2013. Archived from the original on 3 June 2020. Retrieved 7 June 2020.
  19. ^ a b Human Rights Watch: "Central African Republic: War Crimes by Ex-Seleka Rebels - Hold Commander Accountable for Attack on Town" Archived 6 September 2018 at the Wayback Machine 25 November 2013
  20. ^ Zambia City Press: "The killing fields of CAR" by Nazanine Moshir Archived 2014-11-01 at the Wayback Machine 10 November 2013
  21. ^ The Hindu: "CAR tense as rebels wreak havoc" by David Smith Archived 2 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine 27 November 2013
  22. ^ La Nouvelle Centra Afrique: "The Central African Republic: Ever darker" Archived 2013-11-28 at the Wayback Machine 18 November 2013
  23. ^ SBS: "We live and die like animals: The Central African Republic" By Peter Bouckaert Archived 20 August 2016 at the Wayback Machine 17 November 2013
  24. ^ Malay Online: "Hundreds of vigilantes attack town in Central African Republic" Archived 3 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine 26 October 2013
  25. ^ Christian Today: "UN considers sending force to Central African Republic" Archived 28 November 2013 at the Wayback Machine 26 November 2013
  26. ^ "MINUSA Fact Sheet - United Nations Peacekeeping". Archived from the original on 25 January 2021. Retrieved 23 January 2021.
  27. ^ a b c d "One day we will start a big war". Foreign Policy. Archived from the original on 5 February 2017. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
  28. ^ Crispin Dembassa-Kette, "Central Africa Republic's ousted leader back in charge of Seleka" Archived 24 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine, Reuters, 12 July 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2014.
  29. ^ Central African Republic: Ex-president re-elected head of rebel movement Archived 16 July 2014 at the Wayback Machine Associated Press. 13 July 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2014
  30. ^ a b "Central African Republic: What's gone wrong?". IRIN. 24 February 2017. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  31. ^ a b c d "The battle of Ouaka in Central African Republic". LaCroix International. 27 February 2017. Archived from the original on 27 February 2017. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
  32. ^ "Central African Republic: Executions by rebel group". Human Rights Watch. Archived from the original on 16 February 2017. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  33. ^ a b c "U.N. 'KILLS REBEL COMMANDER' IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC AIRSTRIKES". Archived from the original on 13 February 2017. Retrieved 14 February 2017.
  34. ^ "U.N. air strikes in Central African Republic kill several: militia". Reuters. Archived from the original on 14 February 2017. Retrieved 14 February 2017.
  35. ^ "CAR crisis: Meeting the rebel army chief". BBC News. 29 July 2014. Archived from the original on 28 September 2018. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  36. ^ CAR Seleka rebels kill many in Bangui church attack Archived 26 August 2018 at the Wayback Machine. BBC. Retrieved 2014-05-30.
  37. ^ Yahoo News: "Uganda says Seleka now its enemy as it hunts LRA in Central African Republic" By Elias Biryabarema and Crispin Dembassa-Kette Archived 5 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine 1 July 2014
  38. ^ "UNHCR | Refugees Daily". www.unhcr.org. Archived from the original on 26 August 2018. Retrieved 27 November 2019.
  39. ^ "UNHCR | Refugees Daily". www.unhcr.org. Archived from the original on 6 March 2016. Retrieved 27 November 2019.
  40. ^ At least 22 dead in Central African Republic village attacks Archived 19 November 2015 at the Wayback Machine. 13 Nov 2015. Reuters. Retrieved 2015-11-17.
  41. ^ Eight killed in Central African Republic days after pope's visit Archived 28 December 2017 at the Wayback Machine. 4 December 2015. Reuters. Retrieved 2017-12-27.

ReferencesEdit