FIDH condemns the Seleka coup d’Etat of 24 March 2013 in the Central African Republic (CAR). The coup constitutes an unconstitutional and violent seizure of power in violation of regional and international agreements. FIDH calls upon the new authorities to restore constitutional order or, if required, promptly proceed to elections.
On 24 March 2013, Seleka coalition rebels entered and seized control of the CAR’s capital, Bangui. President of the Republic, General François Bozizé, who himself seized power in a coup on 23 March 2003, ten years ago almost to the day, has fled to Cameroon seeking refuge. Military commander of the rebel coalition, Michel Djotodia, has declared himself president. He has announced that he nevertheless intends to retain the former government, composed of civilian opposition representatives and rebels, as required by January 2013’s Libreville agreement and will organise elections to take place within three years. The Seleka rebels’ entry into Bangui has been accompanied by acts of looting throughout the entire city. The situation was reportedly not yet under control on 25 March 2013.
“FIDH condemns all unconstitutional changes of power, even when former authorities have doubtful legitimacy. We also call for an end to looting, the restoration of public safety and constitutional legality”, said Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH President.
The coup d’Etat has been condemned by most regional and international organisations. Indeed, the African Union Peace and Security Council (AU PSC) has suspended the participation of the CAR in all activities performed within the AU, adopted individual penalties against seven leaders of the Seleka rebel coalition and called upon AU Member States to refuse to provide any form of cooperation with those persons. The European Union has declared the coup as “unacceptable” while the International Organisation of the Francophonie (OIF) has expressed its condemnation via Secretary-General Mr. Abdou Diouf. Mr. Diouf has announced that he will refer the issue to the Conseil permanent de la Francophonie, in compliance with the Bamako Declaration, for a decision to be taken on the CAR’s suspension from the organisation. FIDH calls upon the United Nations Security Council, due to meet on 25 March 2013, to adopt a resolution condemning the coup d’Etat in the CAR, urging the restoration of constitutional order, and requiring respect for the Libreville agreement and free, pluralist and transparent elections to be promptly held, within a few months at most, as well as the cessation of violence and of human rights violations. The latter must be prosecuted within the framework of an impartial international investigation.
FIDH expresses its serious concern about the risk of reprisals against General Bozizé’s followers and about the tensions between political groups which could escalate into deadly clashes. Sources indicate that troops from the Central African Multinational Force (FOMAC) deployed by the Economic Community of the Central African States (ECCAS) in January 2013 to prevent the rebels’ seizure of power are reportedly patrolling Bangui and aim to ensure a relative security, without success. FIDH is also concerned about reports of serious human rights violations perpetrated in some camps within different areas of the country over many weeks and calls upon the international community to establish an international commission of inquiry to shed light on these crimes.
“We call upon all protagonists for restraint and calm to make it possible to enter into inclusive discussions ensuring respect for principles and agreements, particularly regarding human rights” said Mr. Sidiki Kaba, FIDH Honorary President. “One thing is for sure: coups have never been political solutions, not for Africa nor for the rest of the World. Therefore, a political solution must be found to restore constitutional legality, due justice and fight against the impunity that has led to the regular crises in the CAR; this solution must put power back in the hands of the civilian population, the only people able to build a sustainable future for this country” he added.