SOAS University of London

Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies

The Central African Republic Crisis: a pre-genocide situation?

Reverend Nicolas Guérékoyamé, President of Evangelical Alliance in Central African Republic and Member of the Transitional Parliament

Date: 15 January 2014Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 15 January 2014Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: Khalili Lecture Theatre (KLT)

Type of Event: Seminar

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Reverend Nicolas Guérékoyamé - The Central African Republic Crisis: a pre-genocide situation?

The chaos in the Central African Republic (CAR) is currently (falsely) portrayed as a conflict between Christian and Muslim militias. President Michel Djotodia, the first Muslim to take the role in the 76% Christian population country, took power in a coup in March 2013, after his Séléka Islamist rebel alliance toppled the corrupt and incompetent government of Francois Bozizé. The rebels recruited as many as 20,000 mercenaries from Chad and Sudan. Their campaign to conquer Bangui saw horrific violence. After Djotodia became President of the Transitional Government, his coalition lost control over the Séléka soldiers. While Séléka was disbanded by Djotodia in September, warlords and militia continue to loot, rape and murder Christians, in particular, while sparing Muslim villages. Eventually, self-defence militias known as anti-Balaka (anti-machete) formed in retaliation, to avenge the previous months of widespread unprovoked attacks.

Rev. Guérékoyamé is a Member of the National Transitional Council (NTC), an acting parliament set up after the military coup. However in Aug 2013 local media said Guerékoyamé’s immunity as an NTC member was not respected when he was arrested for comments about the government. (He was released a few hours later). Some said it was for his sermon on 4 Aug in Bangui. Others said his arrest was linked to the publication of an article in ‘Le Democrate’* in which he blamed the government for the continued prevalence of theft, rape and murder, despite assurances by the President that security and stability was improving.

Even after his brief arrest, Rev Guérékoyamé has not stopped working for peace and reconciliation, travelling the country with the Catholic Archbishop and the President of CAR’s Islamic Conference, prompting ‘Le Monde’ to dub them ‘the three saints of Bangui’. As Rev. Guérékoyamé says: “Why try to create a religious conflict when there’s no conflict between the country’s religious leaders? I admit that some Sudanese and Chadian imams have come here saying something different, but [the Catholic] Archbishop and I have always held the same line as all the country’s imams”.  

The event is joint with the Department of History's African History Seminar Series.

Organiser: Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies

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