(Mail and Guardian) Peace a tough sell in the Central African Republic

There’s election fever in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR). It seems as if everybody is declaring themselves a candidate for president. It’s almost hard to believe anyone would want the job. But if precedent is anything to go by, it’s a licence to loot.

The popularity of the current interim administration is to the left of zero. An SMS made the rounds in Bangui earlier this week calling for a general strike if the few remaining Muslims in the city had not been disarmed by Thursday.

The CAR’s interim president, Catherine Samba-Panza, has few of the tools most heads of state rely on to restore order ”“ the army is not allowed to carry guns and her administration has almost no political skills. She doesn’t really have to worry about any kind of protracted general strike ”“ the few people in Bangui who have jobs are too dirt-poor to stay away from work.

The past week has been one of the worst. Just as everyone from the interim prime minister to France’s defence minister was telling the world that an element of calm was returning to the capital, a heavily armed group killed and injured dozens in a church. The next day, in an apparent revenge attack, a mosque was burnt down.

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