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Are the French Facilitating Ethnic Cleansing in the CAR?

Updated on June 17, 2014

French Soldier Addressing a Crowd in Bangui


Sources of Conflict

The Central African Republic (CAR) has had a tumultuous history over the last several decades. They had an emperor in the 1970s that allegedly ate human beings, but was convicted of beating young children to death. He may even have served human flesh to French President Giscard d’Estaing during a state visit, and he claims he shared women with the French President.

His name was Emperor Bokassa, and he was eventually ousted thanks to French paratroopers. Although because of his service in the French Foreign Legion, he was allowed to live out some of his exile in a chateau in a suburb of Paris.

Fast-forward a few decades and we are facing a totally different situation. The CAR did not change dramatically since the 1980s, but it did not get much worse. The authoritarian president Francois Bozize was in charge of the CAR from 2003 until his ousting in 2013 by Seleka rebels. Keep in mind, the Seleka rebels are part of the Muslim minority in the country, and Bozize is a Christian. He enjoyed a lot of support from the majority Christian population.

However, this conflict may appear to be based on age-old religious differences, but it did not come into being until the recent political strife. In 2013, Seleka rebels backed by neighboring nations rampaged through the country and took the capital Bangui. Bozize was forced to flee, and he was replaced by the Seleka commander Michel Djotodia.

Djotodia had a pretty ineffectual time in office, but in September, 2013 he disbanded the Seleka army. At that point, there were reports that Seleka fighters were carrying out wanton attacks on Christian civilians.

It was during this time that the anti-Balaka militias began to form. They are Christian, and generally perceive the Muslims in the CAR as foreigners, and they have not shown much restraint in killing Muslim civilians.

Djotadia was eventually forced from power, and he has been replaced by Catherine Samba-Panza. She appears to have little control over the nation, and the country’s security situation seems to be deteriorating rapidly.

Map of the CAR

Hollande with French Soldiers


The French Role

Late in 2013, President Francois Hollande decided that the French should intervene to quell the exploding sectarian violence. They worked alongside African Union troops, including a strong contingent from Rwanda, to restore order in the troubled nation.

According to numerous reports, although Bangui appears to have returned to a state of calm, much of the country is still suffering. The anti-Balaka militias are reported to rely on child soldiers, who have a lot of time on their hands since most of the schools in the country are closed, and they have been carrying out reprisals against Muslim civilians. They utilize any sort of weapon they can get their hands on: guns, machetes, or farming equipment.

Nobody has reliable numbers for how many have been killed, but at this point, the predominantly Muslim areas near Bangui seem to have disappeared. Thousands have certainly been killed, but the majority of the Muslims seem to have fled their homes for Chad and Cameroon. Massive convoys of Muslim people have been seen streaming out of the anti-Balaka controlled areas.

The official mission of the French was to stop the violence and disarm the Seleka fighters. There are reports that the Seleka have been largely disarmed, but it seems that the French military has refrained from confronting the anti-Balaka. There are reports of French soldiers standing by idly as anti-Balaka fighters literally butcher Muslims.

The Rwandans on the other hand have taken a more aggressive approach, and they are forcibly trying to reintegrate the Muslim and Christian populations. Perhaps, they are trying to recreate the ethnic “solution” they found in post-genocide Rwanda in which they forced Hutus back into the country and even the government.

However, what is clear is that these different military forces in the CAR have different standards of engagement, and they do not seem to communicate very well with each other. This is certainly problematic. How can the peace-keeping forces keep the peace if they cannot even agree on what that peace should look like?

Muslims Fleeing


Echoes of Rwanda

During the Rwandan Genocide, 800,000 people were killed in just 100 days. The French military set up the protected “Zone Orange” in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in order to facilitate the escape of refugees. This protected zone was used by Hutu fighters as a safe haven while they carried out brutal attacks on Tutsi civilians.

The intentions of the French military were certainly not to abet genocide, but by allowing the Hutus to act as they did, they tacitly allowed more people to be killed.

In the CAR, if the reports are true, then the French are also do not appear to be preventing what looks more and more like an ethnic cleansing of the Muslim population. The fighting in the CAR has not degenerated in to outright genocide, but it seems to be dangerously close. If the French military is going to take up a peace-keeping mandate in the CAR, then they are going to have to do a lot more than just disarm the Seleka and allow the anti-Balaka to continue to butcher civilians.

Hundreds of Seleka Supporters Protest French Involvement


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    • cjhunsinger profile image


      4 years ago

      max--Weak, very weak. As the government of the US is no longer operating within it's Constitutional constraints, nothing would shock me, but you have failed to provide any proof. The internet is not proof of anything, the news is not proof. For you to point to it as proof is "Silly" and uninformed. At best what is on the net and news is only a starting point. You seemed to have stopped there.

    • maxoxam41 profile image


      4 years ago from USA

      Why do you underline "silly"?

      If you go to an independent news source you will find it. It is not news. Michael Ruppert few years ago exposed governmental corruption, including his experience with CIA drug dealing activities.

      Haven't you read somewhere that the production of opium has increased in Afghanistan since our presence? You have to go to the news if you want real news.

    • cjhunsinger profile image


      4 years ago


      Not much would surprise me anymore. I am sure that you have proof of your accusations. Perhaps you can bring that proof out and inform us silly people. There are so many that just accuse without any foundation or truth. I am sure you are not one of those.

      I look forward to seeing the evidence.

    • maxoxam41 profile image


      4 years ago from USA

      We don't have to borrow money from China. We cultivate our Afghan poppies and use Kosovo to dispatch our drug. How do you think we can afford all the wars, conflicts we're in?

    • cjhunsinger profile image


      4 years ago

      One would think that as Africa is the birth place of humanity it would have been the first to arrive at some semblance of civility. That it would have led the way to a free and prosperous people, but that has not been the case and one has to ask, why?

      Theistic belief, regardless of the god or gods worshiped is no more or less than any form of dictatorial or totalitarian rule. You seem to neglect the Christians that are being slaughtered by Muslims. The current onslaught by ISIS is but one example and other Islam centered organizations that are burning and beheading any not of the Islamic belief.

      You passionately call for intervention. Who would you like us to kill in the name of Allah or a Jesus? What god should we defend? How many Americans should die for this 'just' cause? How much money should we borrow from China for this intervention?

      That you feel so strongly about this stupidity, there certainly is nothing stopping you from from sending your own money or yourself to Central Africa to defend those who would, in all probability, be glad to kill Christians if given the opportunity.


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