The Central African Republic’s President Michel Djotodia has resigned at a regional summit that is aimed at ending the violence that has engulfed the country. Prime Minister Nicolas Tiengay has also announced his resignation. The announcement, which was released in a statement by the ten-nation Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), was met with jubilant scenes throughout the CAR’s capital city Bangui. Shortly after the announcement was made, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called for a replacement for Mr. Dojotida “as soon as possible.” On the ground in the CAR, French tanks have deployed around the presidential palace in Bangui in order to prevent protests.
Sources have indicated that on Friday, just before 0300 GMT, the regional leaders suspended their talks and requested that the CAR interim parliament draft a deal for President Djotodia and Prime Minister Nicolas Tiengae to step down. Over the past few weeks, Djotodia has come under fire for failing to stem the spiralling violence between mainly Muslim former rebels who brought him to power last year and militias formed by the Christian majority. Although he is due to step down when a transition period expires in a year’s time, his inability to rein in chaos across the country has prompted calls for a swifter change in leadership.
Over the past few days, regional leaders, and the CAR’s entire parliament, gathered in neighbouring Chad in a bid to end sectarian violence that has engulfed the country. Chadian President Idriss Deby, who had stark words, seen by many as a push to remove Djotodia, or at least to curb his powers, opened the summit. During his opening statement on Thursday, Chad’s president indicated that “the CAR is suffering deploy from the actions of its own sons, who are dragging their country down into a war that jeopardises its future.” President Deby called for “concrete and decisive action” to halt the violence that has pitted Muslims against Christian self-defence militias and which has resulted in the death of more than 1,000 people in the past month. On Thursday, ECCAS secretary general Allami Ahmat, a former Chadian foreign minister, stated “the solution must come from the Central Africans themselves,” adding that “neither ECCAS nor the international community have come to change the regime….It is up to those responsible (in the CAR) to decide the fate of their country.” All 135 lawmakers from the CAR flew to Chad on Thursday, where they were ordered by African leaders at the summit to draw up a proposal on their president Michel Djotodia’s future. As the high-stake talks took place in N’Djamena, thousands of residents in the Central African capital Bangui took to the streets, demanding that Djotodia resign. Regional leaders are anxious to stem the crisis as there are fears that the unrest extends beyond the CAR’s borders. Officials at the United Nations have warned that both ex-Seleka rebels and CAR former solders have crossed into the volatile Democratic Republic of Congo, causing local residents to flee.
Mr. Djotodia, the CAR’s first Muslim leader, seized power in March of last yea. Since then, twenty per cent of the population have fled their homes amidst intense fighting between Christian and Muslim militias. Since December 2013, and the arrival of more region peacekeepers and French troops, around 1,000 people have died in sectarian clashes. Many villages are now deserted and over the past month, the number of those who have fled the home has doubled, including almost half of those living in the capital Bangui. Furthermore, while mass slaughters have mostly ceased in Bangui itself, amidst frequent patrols carried out by peacekeepers, sporadic killings carry on almost every night. Officials at the United Nations have warned of an impending humanitarian disaster. Some 100,000 people have set up camp in one tent city near Bangui airport, close to the peacekeepers base. UNICEF has warned of a potential disaster in overcrowded camps in and around the capital city, where thee have already been several cases of measles, which could be deadly.
European Union nation states are considering whether to join in the French and African peacekeeping operations in the country, with a meeting on the issue scheduled for Friday.