Mon, 17 Jun 2019

CAR's anti-Balaka militia quits disarmament efforts

15 Dec 2018, 04:38 GMT+10

Two militia groups involved in bloodshed in Central African Republic said on Friday they were withdrawing from a disarmament programme following the arrest in France of one of their leaders.

The decision to pull out was triggered by the arrest on Wednesday of Patrice-Edouard Ngaissona, a former minister and member of Africa's top footballing body, on war crimes charges.

Both groups belong to the so-called anti-Balaka (anti-machete) movement, a group of Christian vigilante units set up five years ago to counter attacks by mainly-Muslim Seleka rebels.

They have since engaged in years of bloody sectarian violence with their mainly-Muslim rivals, leaving thousands dead.

In a bid to draw a line under the bloodshed, the government began a pilot disarmament programme in August 2017, with the UN saying in October that six groups had so far committed to it. The process of collecting weapons is due to start by the year's end.

But the two groups said they were withdrawing their support for the national plan for Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) after the arrest of Ngaissona for acting as a top coordinator for the anti-Balaka militias.

Issued by the International Criminal Court, the warrant refers to "alleged criminal responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the western part of Central African Republic" between September 2013 and December 2014.

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