10 Jan 2014

CAR crisis: President Djotodia resigns at summit

Central African Republic‘s interim President Michel Djotodia has resigned. The people got their wish. Talks to decide a new leadership will now take place in Bangui.

Regional leaders had put pressure on Mr Djotodia to step down after he failed to halt months of inter-religious violence that has forced 1 million people from their homes.


Earlier today it was just a few individuals carrying cardboard placards demanding the president quits.

But a couple of hours later, thousands gathered at the Place de la Reconciliation. That name is not without irony.

These are Christians – euphoric and angry in equal measure – and they think their day has come.

They sing the national anthem, then wave palm tree branches to symbolise the passing of the president they hate because he was brought to power by the minority Muslim militias.

French soldiers and African peacekeepers keep order, but against these numbers their effectiveness will be limited if the weapons appear.

Read more: ominous signs in Central African Republic

Later, on the far side of the airport runway from the terminal, the weapons of the Christian militia were on show.

Men wearing juju fetishes, everything from a Santa Claus hat to a woman’s hairnet, were brandishing and sharpening machetes, spears and daggers.

They marched with their flag-bearer, an almost medieval militia parading with the airport terminal in the background.

Later they made good on their promise to try and block the runway to prevent the president they hate – Michel Djotodia – from returning.

Under French direction, Congolese peacekeepers drove them back with water cannon.

So far, it is a clash of public order rather than lethal weaponry, but depending on what unfolds today, few here believe events will stay like this.

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