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CAR: Seleka rebels back Meckassoua as ousted assembly leader urges calm

Central African Republic

The former President of the Central African National Assembly, Karim Meckassoua, who was dismissed on Friday, called for calm on Sunday and described his dismissal as a “coup de force against the Constitution” in a speech delivered in the PK5 district of Bangui, which is home to the majority of Muslims in the capital.

In front of the residents of PK5, the capital’s economic lung and often the scene of violence, Karim Meckassoua called for “calm”, an AFP journalist reported.

Mr. Meckassoua denounced “those who wanted to denominationalize the debate”, but pointed out that 38 of the 41 deputies who voted for his dismissal were Christians.

The fight continues but it is a judicial fight

He indicated that two proceedings to challenge his dismissal were under way, in the High Court and the Constitutional Court. “The fight continues but it is a judicial fight,” he said.

On Friday evening, the President of the Assembly, Karim Meckassoua, a Muslim, was dismissed by the Central African members of parliament.

In the aftermath of his dismissal, scattered gunfire was heard in Bangui on Friday, and in central and eastern cities, Bambari and Bria.

On Saturday, one of the leaders of the former Seléka, Abdoulaye Hissène, gave a 48-hour ultimatum to representatives of the Central African State to leave the country’s areas under the control of the National Defence and Security Council (CNDS), which includes various armed groups of the former Seléka.

Mr Hissène told AFP that Mr Meckassoua’s dismissal was “illegal”. He “has not committed any serious misconduct that justifies his dismissal by his peers”.

On Sunday, two of the three armed groups members of the CNDS, the Front populaire pour la renaissance de la Centrafique (FPRC) and the Mouvement patriotique pour la Centrafrique (MPC), disassociated themselves from this announcement in separate communiqués.

“The CNDS (chaired by Mr Hissène) is the armed wing (of the former Seléka), they are very angry about the brutal dismissal of Karim (Meckassoua) but in the end it is the political bureau that has restraint and can ease the tension”, explained to AFP a close relative of Noureddine Adam, leader of the FPRC.

After the outbreak of hatred between Muslim-dominated Seléka coalition rebels and anti-balaka groups claiming to defend Southern Christians from 2013, his election as a perch in 2016 had emerged as a symbol of reconciliation in Central Africa, led by a Christian, Faustin-Archange Touadéra.

But in this country where political influence remains partly communitarian, relations between the two men have never been good.

The resettlement of state representatives in all regions of the Central African Republic is one of Faustin-Archange Touadéra’s main challenges, while the state is struggling to establish its authority in a country plagued by violence.

Since 2013, almost all of it has been living under the control of armed groups in a country of 4.5 million inhabitants, classified among the poorest in the world but rich in diamonds, gold and uranium.


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