Central African Republic conflict widens
FIDES, the News Agency of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples reports that “South Africa has sent about 200 soldiers to support the security of the capital of the Central African Republic, Bangui, under threat from Seleka rebels. Despite the peace talks that open on 8 January in Libreville, the capital of Gabon, the rebels captured Alindao and Kouango on 5 January, two cities near Bambari, the main town in the centre of the country.”
The Seleka rebels are near Damara, about 90kms from Bangui. Both sides see this as an ‘unsurpassed red line’. There are nearly 800 foreign soldiers in the Multinational Force of Central Africa (FOMAC), supporting the government side: 400 from Chad and 360 soldiers from Gabon, Cameroon and Congo.
South African President Jacob Zuma said that this South African military group were sent to the CAR in accordance with the agreements previously signed by the two countries. France and US Special Forces are also present in the country. South Africa already has a group of soldiers (whose mission will end March 31), helping to train the local army and start the process of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of the rebels.
“Representatives of Seleka have criticized the South African decision, saying that mercenaries and South African arms have already been sent to the Country (see Fides 03/01/2013), suspecting the existence of agreements for the exploitation of mineral resources by local South African corporations.”
The Society of African Missions has a significant presence in CAR for many decades, working in several dioceses. The dioceses of Bossangoa and Berberati have SMA bishops leading them. We also have SMA priests from the country working as missionaries in other parts of Africa. Our Formation House in Bangui hosts SMA seminarians who are studying Philosophy at the nearby diocesan seminary. If you want to help support their training you can Donate Online here – Training of SMA seminarians.