The Central African Republic’s acting president, Alexandre-Ferdinand Nguendet, ordered the deployments of hundreds more troops in the capital Bangui on Monday with instructions to shoot troublemakers “at point blank range” days after former rebel leader Michel Djotodia resigned the office.
Despite Friday’s resignation of Djotodia, who led mainly Muslim rebels from the north in a coup against Christian president François Bozizé last year, violence between the two religious groups has continued. Waves of ethnic killings and reprisals have killed hundreds, if not thousands, creating a “nearly impossible” situation, France’s envoy to the United Nations, Gérard Araud, said on Wednesday.
Not all of the fighters who supported Djotodia have heeded to his call to lay down their arms. Wanton attacks on members of the country’s majority Christian population prompted them to organize in militias as well while some of the armed Muslim groups also battle among themselves.
France hurriedly deployed some 1,600 troops to Bengui in December when up to four hundred of its residents had died violently in a matter of days. They managed to restore some order there but the peacekeepers are too thinly spread to prevent more bloodshed across the country.
Araud suggested that France might have “underestimated the hatred and the resentment between the communities.”
The United Nations estimate that the unrest in the landlocked former French colony has displaced around one million people, a fifth of the population.
Nguendet is to lead the Central African Republic for a maximum of two weeks until a transitional council chooses an interim president who should remain in power until elections can be called.