Abayomi Azikiwe Editor, Pan-African News Wire
Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

Press TV has conducted an interview with Abayomi Azikiwe, the director
of Pan-African News Wire from Detroit, about religious and ethnic
cleansing in CAR despite the presence of international military forces
in the country.

The following is an approximate transcript of the interview.

Press TV: We know what created or triggered this violence, but the
question everyone is asking is why the entire Muslim population is
being targeted by this Christian militia. Why aren’t we seeing the
peacekeepers and the French troops there stopping this genocide from
happening?

Azikiwe: I believe that one of the central reasons behind these
attacks on the minority Islamic population in the Central African
Republic stems from the rule of the Seleka Coalition under the
direction of Michel Djotodia who was the interim president there up
until January when he was forced to resign at a regional meeting in
Chad.

There were a lot of atrocities committed during the period of the
Seleka unrest late 2012 and in the early months of 2013. They marched
into the capital of Bangui in March 2013. That resulted in the death
of people – civilians as well as members of the South African national
defense forces – who were inside the Central African Republic
ostensibly on a peacekeeping mission.

As a result of these atrocities committed by the Seleka Coalition
there has been a response from these Christian militia groups – the
anti-Balaka and others who have declared essentially all Muslims
inside the country as being “persona non-grata.”

They want to drive all of them out of the country. This is not a just
response to the political repression that was carried out by the
Seleka Coalition.

Unfortunately the deployment of nearly 2,000 French troops; 6,000
African peace keeping troops; and of course European Union troops and
the prospects of another 12,000 United Nations peacekeeping forces is
that they have not been able to stabilize the situation inside the
country.

I don’t believe with the deployment of these additional United Nations
peacekeeping forces, which have been authorized, will they either be
able to resolve the conflict without some type of political solution
inside the country.

Press TV: Do you agree that the French have, in the words of one
writer, been overseeing this bloodshed rather than preventing it? And
they also refer to the fact that just three days after the French
troops came into the country the violence intensified against the
Muslims.

And they’re also saying that initially they didn’t have that UN
mandate after they came into the CAR. Then the UN Security Council
gave them the mandate and they see that as a sign that France actually
had its own ulterior objective or motive for its presence in the
country.

What do you think about the objective behind the French troop presence?

Azikiwe: Well, there was definitely an escalation of violence inside
the country with the intervention of more French troops, but I want to
point out that France has had a long-time presence in the Central
African Republic as a former French colony.

It’s interesting that they would want Francoise Bozize out in 2013
when in fact they were largely responsible for his installation in
2003. People can remember the Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide
who was overthrown by the United States, France and Canada in late
February 2004 some ten years ago – He was exiled to Bangui in the
Central Africa Republic initially until he was given political asylum
in South Africa.

But France clearly seized their former colonies as their domain of
influence. The Central African Republic has gold, they have diamonds
they have uranium deposits inside the country.

I believe France as well as the United States and other countries
including Canada want to enhance and intensify the exploitation of
these mineral resources.

Press TV: One writer described the situation and I’m quoting here, he
says, “It’s the law of the jungle right now in the Central Africa
Republic”.

What can be done with the central government unable to play any role –
what should be done about this situation?

Azikiwe: I believe that if the French pull back from Bangui and other
key areas inside the Central Africa Republic and that the African
peacekeeping forces are given extra personnel as well as logistical
support that they can at least attempt to normalize the situation
inside the country.

But the problem is now, with French forces there – and the animosity
against them is rising on a daily basis; and then of course the
European Union forces and the potential of thousands more United
Nations peacekeeping forces, it’s going to be tantamount to a large
scale foreign occupation of the Central Africa Republic.

And this is not going to benefit the nation building process or the
process of national reconciliation.

Muslims and Christians have lives in the Central Arica Republic
together for decades. Many of the Muslims there were foreign nationals
or descendants of foreign nationals for Chad, from Sudan and they of
course have done business there, they have lived among the Christian
population there for many years.

It is only with this large scale French and foreign intervention that
we’ve seen these types of conflicts escalate.

Press TV: You said that if the troops leave you think that’s going to
be helpful, but don’t you think we do need an international UN mission
on this as the central government is not effective?

Azikiwe: I believe that the French troops are there contributing to
the instability inside the country and there should be a reinforcement
of the Africa union troops from various Central African States and
possible other regions of the African continent.

There also needs to be a stronger political intervention on the part
of the African Union to reach some type of political settlement
because otherwise we’re not going to have peace inside the CAR for any
time soon.

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