before 6am I set off towards Bocaranga, went to Tatale village (50km) to pick up injured people after the anti-balaka attack of Saturday last. Just 15km far from Bozoum we run upon the anti-balakas, waiting for us. I greeted them, they are mostly village people, students, adults. They're about 80. So we began talking. They expressed their suffering and aggravation after the Selekas attacks and violences, since March. I replied fighting to defend your families and your villages is ok, but you are mistaking all Muslims by Selekas. Selekas are criminals. There are Muslims and Mbororos who did take advantage of this situation, however it is pitot question to attack civilians, as the did in Bozoum. They only provoked the Selekas and the Muslims reaction with in results of killing 20 innocent civilians and now everyone goes around armed. They did understand my meaning, I asked if they were in for a meeting with the Seleka's chief....they agreed. So I went on to my destinations hectic ya. In every village there are anti-balakas. In Tatale, as we pick up the wounded, I came across the self-defense committee, who tried to react against anti-balakas. The atmosphere was ok, although now we heard the Selekas "colonel" sold Kalashnikov to the Mbororos. That complicates everything....
We came home with 20 injured men.
I will try to convince the colonel to come tomorrow, with no weapons. Hopefully this will bring us some peace.
today is the big day there's the meeting with anti-balakas (they were simple farmers who formed vigilantes groups to defend their families and fields against the Selekas)
At 8 am I went in to town with the prefect, the studies rector and my colleagues of Justice and Peace. The Seleka's "colonel" called in then put trough his security man. After I explained the situation, and take responsibility for his safety, they agreed on him coming unarmed. In the meanwhile I tried to convince some Muslims leaders (two Imams, one Mbororos chief and a delegation of transporters). It was difficult, but in the end their determination and strong motivation prevailed. (They are very brave to come, after all anti-balakas are quite hostile towards them, many Muslims and Mbororos took advantage and collaborated with Selekas.
The colonel was already in the car, when one of his men, fully armed came on board. We asked him to leave. The colonel also left. (Only hours later we found out Selekas had plan a high speed car for tracing upon us. Thankfully they had an accident that forced them home, I cannot imagine what could have happened, if they showed up with weapons)......
So off we went.
We arrived in the village, there was an impressive line of armed men, more than500 !!!! Most have home made rifles, some have machetes, knives, clubs.
We began the meeting, the leaders spoke of their anguish and suffering. The cannot move, they have big issues with the Mbororos (armed, threatening them) they have been wounded, tortured, raped, killed. Many lost their relatives, killed by the Selekas ( some dead bodies were thrown in the river)...
they were assertive ans determined in their telling. They gave three days for Selekas to disarm and leave, or they will attack. Which means total disaster, carnage -as they little differentiate Selekas nor Muslims- of a religious group.
We indeed acknowledged their points against Selekas, tried to make them understand that even if few Muslim and Mbororos took advantage and collaborated with Selekas, the majority of their communities are innocent. It will be necessary to disarm everyone, especially since they bought rifles from the Seleka just recently. Thankfully the Muslim delegates are wise and kept calm even if some people shout against them. Their turn to speak: they plead forgiveness for the violence caused by some of their people, they want to help Seleka to leave this place and let peace come back on our village. So we ended our meeting with a Commonwealth goal: disarm and Selekas leaving this place, in 3 days. It won't be easy, but we'll try our best. God help if this attempt will fail! Anti-balakas are more than 1000, with two further groups, estimated 3000 armed people. If we manage to disarm Selekas, they are ready to lay down weapons too. It could become an example for the peace in this country.
3 pm meeting with the people who came at the meeting with me, we drafted the ultimatum for the colonel: either Selekas leave Bozoum or they will be confined in a designed place and they won't be permitted to go around carrying weapons. We called in the colonel, explained him the grave situation mad we red him the ultimatum and our alternatives. They were obviously not happy about it. We told them to carefully consider these options, the anti balakas are powerful and numerous, if the Seleka should resist it would be a massacre for everyone.
They said they will think about it and let us know tomorrow at 11 am