Tuesday, May 22, 2018

RLPB 456. Central African Republic (CAR): rebels vow to march on Bangui

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 456 | Wed 23 May 2018
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CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: REBELS VOW TO MARCH ON BANGUI
by Elizabeth Kendal

Updating RLPB 454 (9 May), Central African Republic: Cathedral Massacre
-- tensions in Bangui at boiling point; threat of renewed conflict.

MINUSCA map Feb 2017
click on map to enlarge
According to The Defense Post (17 May), members of the Islamic militia known as the Popular Front for the Renaissance of Central Africa (FPRC) 'have been regrouping in several towns in north-eastern CAR since April 13, notably in Kaga Bandoro, around 350km north of the capital, as well as in Ndélé , further north-east'. According to the FPRC, other Islamic groups are also regrouping there, including the Patriotic Movement for the Central African Republic (MPC) and the mostly ethnic Peuhle (Fulani) Union for Peace in the Central African Republic (UPC). These groups -- all previously part of Séléka -- have vowed to 'march on Bangui'. With tension mounting, on 13 May two French Mirage 2000-D fighter jets conducted a show of force over Kaga Bandoro to deter the militants. MINUSCA (UN peacekeepers) and CAR Armed Forces are on high alert and working to secure the Kaga Bandoro-Dekoa-Sibut axis to prevent any southward movement of Islamic militias.

Meanwhile, on the night of Monday 14 May armed men presumed to be members of the UPC attacked the front-line town of Bambari, 250km south-east of Kaga Bandoro. They struck the police station, the gendarmerie, and the local UN peacekeeper base, as well as the Town Hall, a radio station and the hospital. They looted and sacked the offices of four humanitarian non-government organisations and physically assaulted their staff.  They also looted and sacked the Catholic parish of Saint-Jean. Dozens of homes were burnt and shops looted; tens of thousands of residents were forced to flee for their lives. At least eight people, including an aid worker and a midwife, were killed. By Wednesday 16 May MINUSCA had re-established control over the city. This is without doubt an answer to our prayer that God will 'help MINUSCA and CAR's Armed Forces restore security and liberate territory'. The attack was reportedly carried out in retaliation for the deaths of three Fulani killed during a robbery outside the town on Monday 14 May. A UPC spokesman denied that the UPC was involved in the attack on Bambari, as did Radio France Internationale.

The violence came as a shattering blow for Bambari residents. Bambari had been pacified in February 2017 after a successful MINUSCA intervention to dislodge the UPC and disarm local militias. The town was hosting more than 35,000 displaced persons, all of whom were dependent on humanitarian aid. Businesses and community projects had begun to revive -- now security and hope have been shattered.  

UN peacekeepers in Bangui (2015)
Credit: Daniel Dal Zennaro/EPA
CAR, which according to Operation World 2010 is 76 percent Christian, is under attack and the situation is far more complex and opaque than most might imagine. Who is funding these Islamic militias, most of which are led by foreign mercenaries and full of foreign fighters? Whose proxies are they? Russia alone is providing the government of CAR with the military aid it is seeking: weapons for its military, with UN Security Council approval. Who would benefit if Bangui were to fall? Indeed, many more questions can be raised than answered. Fortunately, what is hidden from us is not hidden from God; he knows exactly what needs to be done.


PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL:

* sever all the supply-lines that keep CAR's Islamic militants flush with funds for salaries, weapons and vehicles; in particular, may he bind all evil demonic forces in CAR, forces that empower the wicked ... may all those links likewise be severed!

'For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.' (Ephesians 6:12 ESV)

* intervene to 'turn back the battle' and help the MINUSCA peace-keepers and CAR's Armed Forces restore security and liberate territory currently held by Islamic militias.

'Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.' (Psalm 20:7 ESV)

* protect, guide and empower CAR's peacemakers, aid workers, and decision-makers, for the sake of CAR's traumatised, harassed and helpless peoples, and for the sake of Christ's suffering and imperilled Church.

May the Lord have mercy on Central African Republic!
May the Lord have the victory in Central African Republic!


SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
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REBELS VOW TO MARCH ON BANGUI IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC (CAR)

Since mid-April, at least three Islamic militias have been regrouping in CAR's north-east, mostly in and around the rebel-held front-line town of Kaga Bandoro with the stated aim of launching an attack on the capital, Bangui. On 13 May two French Mirage fighter jets conducted a show of force over Kaga Bandoro hoping to deter the militants. UN peacekeepers and CAR Armed Forces are on high alert, determined to prevent any militia movement southwards towards the capital. On 15-16 May armed Muslims invaded Bambari, shattering a year-long period of UN-supervised peace. Numerous properties, organisations and institutions, including the local church, were looted and sacked; eight people were killed and tens of thousands displaced. Tensions are soaring. Please pray for a breakthrough in CAR and for the suffering Church.

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Elizabeth Kendal is an international religious liberty analyst and advocate. She serves as Director of Advocacy at Canberra-based Christian Faith and Freedom (CFF), and is an Adjunct Research Fellow at the Arthur Jeffery Centre for the Study of Islam at Melbourne School of Theology.

She has authored two books: Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today (Deror Books, Melbourne, Australia, Dec 2012) which offers a Biblical response to persecution and existential threat; and After Saturday Comes Sunday: Understanding the Christian Crisis in the Middle East (Wipf and Stock, Eugene, OR, USA, June 2016).

See www.ElizabethKendal.com