UN Troops Capture Andilo, Leader of Anti-Muslim Ethnic Cleansing in Central African Republic
United Nations peacekeeping troops arrested a leader of a Christian militia accused of committing ethnic cleansing against Muslims in the Central African Republic (CAR).
Reuters reports Rodrigue Ngaibona, popularly known as Andilo, was arrested on Saturday in Bouca, 300 km (195 miles) north of the capital, Bangui.
Ngaibona, a leader of the Christian and animist anti-balaka militia, was wanted for a wide range of human rights violations, including murder and rape, the country’s senior prosecutor said.
CAR descended into bloody civil strife when mostly Muslim Seleka rebels ousted President François Bozizé from power in a March 2013 coup. CAR’s population is 80 percent Christian and about 10 percent Muslim.
Despite the presence of French and African Union peacekeeping troops in the country, horrific atrocities have occurred on both sides. Human Rights Watch reported in the wake of the coup that Seleka forces “have committed grave violations against civilians, including pillage, summary executions, rape, and torture.” Seleka troops have been aided by Muslim fighters from Chad and Sudan.
Anti-balaka and other Christian and animist militias have responded with what the United Nations recently called a campaign of “ethnic cleansing” targeting Muslims, resulting in “thousands” of deaths.
A UN Security Council report released last month concluded that:
The anti-balaka deliberately killed members of the Muslim population and on many occasions told the Muslims to go away and not come back. Their houses, as well as their mosques, were burned or destroyed. Muslims who tried to flee were frequently killed, whether in the towns, the bush, or in convoys that were taking them to refuge outside the country.
Thousands of people died as a result of the conflict. Human rights violations and abuses were committed by all parties. The Séléka coalition and the anti-balaka are also responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Although the Commission cannot conclude that there was genocide, ethnic cleansing of the Muslim population by the anti-balaka constitutes a crime against humanity.
Last September, the International Criminal Court (ICC) launched a criminal investigation into allegations of murder, rape and child soldier recruitment in CAR. That same month, the UN took control of the African Union peacekeeping mission under a Security Council mandate to increase the number of troops and police there to nearly 12,000.
CAR is rich in gold, diamonds, uranium and other valuable natural resources. But a combination of the legacy of colonial oppression, gross mismanagement by successive ruling regimes and foreign economic exploitation have resulted in a nation with a per capital gross domestic product of about $800, making it one of the poorest countries in the world.