Central African Republic says violence plotted to provoke coup


Central African Republic’s transitional government on Tuesday said that several days of violence last week, the most serious in months in which about a dozen people were killed, was part of a purported plot to overthrow the administration.

Without identifying anyone, the government said in a statement that a “coalition of negative forces” distributed money to a faction of the population, urging them to set up barricades in the capital to destabilise the country.
“Heavy and light weapons were also distributed among the population, especially to young people for them to sow terror and demand the resignation of the president of the transition and Prime Minister,” the statement signed by government spokeswoman Antoinette Montaigne said.

The three days of clashes pitting mostly militias, known as anti-balaka, against armed Muslims, forced up to 6,500 to flee their homes, according to the United Nations.

The violence was the first major test for the country’s newly deployed U.N. peacekeeping mission, occurring amid increasing political tensions as anti-balaka leaders and the mostly Muslim Seleka rebels called for Interim President Catherine Samba-Panza to step down.

Central African Republic, which is poor despite gold, uranium and diamond reserves, was plunged into chaos when the Seleka rebels seized power in March 2013.

Their rule was marked by abuses that prompted a backlash from the mostly Christian and animist militia known as “anti-balaka”. France sent troops to its former colony and an existing African peacekeeping force was beefed up and transformed into a U.N. peacekeeping mission.

Seleka leaders were forced to resign in January and a new transition took over led by Samba-Panza. Sporadic intercommunal violence has continued despite the presence of thousands of peacekeepers.