C.Africa ex-Seleka rebels name new leader

Saturday 10 May 2014

Central African Republic's ex-Seleka fighters on Saturday named Joseph Zoundeko as their new military leader in a bid to unite the mostly Muslim rebel group amid ongoing sectarian violence in the war-torn country.

One hundred ex-Seleka officers attended the two-day meeting in the northeastern town of Ndele including Nourreddine Adam, the right-hand man of former president Michel Djotodia, who seized power in March last year in a political coup that plunged Central Africa into chaos.

"Participants at the Ndele meeting felt that ex-Seleka factions are scattered, not at all structured, and they engage in acts that are far from favouring the tranquility of the people of the hinterland," said a source close to the movement.

"The conclave thinks that only this leader will know how to channel these elements, control each group, and ensure the security of the Central African people."

Central Africa has been plunged into a cycle of sectarian violence for more than a year after splinter groups of Seleka rebels went rogue, embarking on a campaign of killing, raping and looting.

The abuses prompted members of the Christian majority to form vigilante "anti-balaka" groups, unleashing a wave of brutal tit-for-tat killings that has left thousands dead and close to a million displaced.

Djotodia, now in exile in Benin, was replaced as president by interim leader Samba Panza in January after failing to stop the bloodshed.

Some 5,000 troops in the African MISCA force along with 2,000 French soldiers under a UN mandate are struggling to restore order and security in the war-ravaged country.

International Criminal Court investigators arrived in the capital Bangui earlier this week to begin probing reports of "serious crimes and unprecedented atrocities" in the country.

The United Nations on Friday ordered sanctions against Adam, who is accused of torture and carrying out summary executions as well as trafficking diamonds. Anti-Balaka militia Levy Yakete was also hit with asset freezes and a travel ban.

Seleka militants have been in disarray since they were forced from power, but have recently begun to regroup in the north of the country and in neighbouring Chad.

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