The United States imposed financial sanctions against two militia leaders accused of collaborating on violence intended to destabilise the Central African Republic struggling to end years of division and bloodshed.
The assets of Abdoulaye Hissene and Maxime Mokom were both frozen, although it was not clear whether either holds any property within US jurisdiction. Generally, US nationals are also prohibited from transactions with those under sanctions.
Hissene is a chief in the mainly Muslim Seleka rebel coalition that ousted then-President Francois Bozize in 2013. Mokom is a leader in the Christian militias known as anti-balaka, which arose in reaction to Bozize’s ousting.
Violence between Seleka and anti-balaka, including ethnic cleansing, left the country divided along religious fault lines.
“Today’s action underscores our ongoing efforts to target those responsible for fuelling violence and human rights abuses in the Central African Republic,” said John E. Smith, director of the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.
The allegations against Hissene and Mokom underline the increasingly convoluted web of alliances between rebels and militias that continue to undermine security despite successful elections.
US authorities accuse them of collaborating as part of a plot to overthrow Central African Republic’s transitional government in September 2015 and attempting to derail through violence a constitutional referendum later that year.
They were suspected of planning to disrupt the arrival of President Faustin-Archange Touadera at Bangui airport last June, raising fears of a possible coup attempt.
“From seemingly opposing sides of the conflict, Hissene and Mokom have in the past few years conspired to keep the war going, much for their own personal benefit,” said Ruben de Koning of The Sentry, which researches financing of conflict in Africa.
Both Hissene and Mokom commanded fighters during a new wave of clashes in the centre of the country since November.
The violence, among the worst since 2015-16 elections, has stretched capacity of a UN peacekeeping mission and highlighted the chaos still in much of the former French colony.