Press TV has conducted an interview with Abayomi Azikiwe, an editor with the Pan-African News Wire from Detroit, Michigan, to discuss the instability in the Central African Republic.
What follows is a rough transcript of the interview.
Press TV: First of all, what are the root causes of the conflict between the Muslims and the Christians? Is it a political or ethnic problem?
Azikiwe: It’s a political problem. I don’t believe it’s an ethnic problem. You have a Muslim population that’s approximately 15 percent of the overall number of people inside the Central Africa Republic, which is a vast territory in Central Africa but only has 4.7 million people.
There’s been a series of retributions that have been carried out over the last several weeks with the instability of the previous government of Michel Djotodia, the interim government.
Now there’s a power vacuum inside the country. There’ve been efforts to bring about some type of ceasefire between the Seleka coalition forces, which are heavily Muslim dominated, and the anti-balaka forces, which are the Christian forces.
But fighting is continuing particularly outside the capital Bangui, the incident you referred to in your lead-in, resulting in the deaths of approximately 20 people, some of whom were children.
They’re saying that these actions are carried out by the anti-balaka militia who are Christian groups who are armed with homemade weapons as well as some automatic weapons as well. It’s a very volatile situation.
France has not been able to stabilize the situation. The United Nations is being urged to send in more troops presumably from the European Union.
There’s going to be a conference on Monday which is ostensibly to mobilize aid for the CAR because they have not been receiving the pledges that the United Nations secretary general has requested over the last several weeks.
Press TV: Now, you’ve just mentioned France. Just how much peace is France bringing to the African country, as it has been claiming? Many are saying France is acting indifferently towards what’s been going on in the ground there.
They’ve worsened the situation by doubling their own military forces inside the country. They’ve also brought in troops from Chad, the Republic of Congo – Brazzaville.
Just over the last two days, troops from Rwanda have been flown in by United States military planes.
But there has to be a political solution to the anti-balaka forces and the forces around the Seleka coalition, which is in disarray right now because of the forced removal of the ousted president Michel Djotodia.
Next week they’re supposed to decide on another interim leader. But there needs to be some real mediation taking place on the ground between these disparate political forces.
Press TV: Very briefly, what can we expect from the Africa Union?
Azikiwe: Well, the African Union has mobilized Miscral, which is the Central African peace keeping force, but they do not have the equipment, coordination or the troops to carry out this operation.
I don’t think this is a military solution, necessarily, to this conflict. There has to be a calming of the population. Approximately one-quarter of the entire population has been displaced as a result of the tensions and the fears associated with these retribution attacks from the two main political camps.
So, the African Union has to become more effective in dealing with the situation in the Central Africa Republic. They seem to have gained more success in neighboring republic of South Sudan but that entire region of Africa has been hit over the last several months with an enormous amount of instability and a lot of forces is related to the French and United States intervention as well as the escalating dependence on the part of the Western countries on oil and other strategic minerals that come right out of Central Africa.