Central African Republic rebel chief rejects ceasefire

Andrew Harding reports on the renewed violence

Seleka rebels in the Central African Republic have rejected a ceasefire deal and demanded the country be partitioned between Muslims and Christians.

In an interview with the BBC's Andrew Harding, Seleka military chief Joseph Zoundeiko said his forces would ignore the ceasefire agreed on Thursday.

He said the deal had been negotiated without proper input from the military wing of the former Seleka alliance.

Almost a quarter of the 4.6 million population have fled their homes.

The peace agreement between mainly Muslim Seleka rebels and the largely Christian anti-Balaka militia was signed in the Congolese capital, Brazzaville.

Muslims have been forced to flee the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR) and most of the west of the country, in what rights groups described as ethnic cleansing.

Both sides have been accused of war crimes such as torture and unlawful killing.

'Immediate partition'

But Maj-Gen Zoundeiko has now called for the entire country to be split in two, arguing that CAR as a nation state is finished.

Seleka fighters in the town of Lioto (June 2014) Sectarian fighting has forced much of the Muslim population - and Seleka fighters - to flee to the north or to neighbouring countries
Muslim refugees listen to a radio at the Catholic church in Carnot, Central African Republic - April 2014 A recent study by the medical aid organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres showed "catastrophic levels of mortality" among some Muslim communities because of targeted violence

He called for an immediate partition between the Christian south and Muslim north.

But our correspondent says that political leaders from both sides insist that reconciliation remains possible and desirable despite months of violence.

Tens of thousands of Muslims have already fled from the south - and daily attacks continue in the countryside.

Maj-Gen Zoundeiko blamed "our Christian brothers" for making peace impossible. He declined to say exactly how the country should be divided.

map
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CAR's religious make-up
  • Christians - 50%
  • Muslims - 15%
  • Indigenous beliefs - 35%

Source: Index Mundi

Andrew Harding: Fighting spreads like an infection

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The latest violence in CAR began when mainly Muslim rebels seized power in March last year.

The majority Christian state then descended into ethno-religious warfare.

The presence of some 7,000 international peacekeepers has failed to put an end to the violence and revenge attacks.

Earlier this month Amnesty international named at least 20 people it says are suspected of ordering or committing atrocities and suggests they should be tried under international law by a hybrid court using national and international experts.

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