A rebel army seizes control of Central African Republic
Christians in Central African Republic (CAR) are at risk from the rebel army, Seleka, and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). LRA is an occultic militia with sanctuary in southern Darfur, Sudan, and now believed to be in CAR. Whilst the LRA has been severely diminished and reduced to scavenging, the chaos in CAR could provide it with an opportunity to re-group and also kidnap children to use as soldiers and sex-slaves. LRA leader, Joseph Kony, is a blood-thirsty spirit medium. Amazingly, over 30 years, Ugandan, South Sudanese, Congolese, CAR and US troops have all failed to find him! May the Lord liberate CAR from Seleka, protect CAR’s children from the LRA, bring down Joseph Kony, and raise up Godly leadership for CAR. Please pray for the Church in CAR.
Seized by Muslim Rebels
As the rebel army, Seleka, advanced towards Bangui, the capital of Central African Republic (CAR), CAR President François Bozizé appealed to France (the colonial power) and the US for help. However, this was to no avail, even though French troops were already in the country. Desperate for support, Bozizé appealed to South African president Jacob Zuma, who did send troops. But on 23 March, after fierce fighting, Seleka defeated the South African Defence Force, paving the way for the rebels to enter Bangui on Sunday 24 March unhindered. Seleka then embarked on a campaign of raping, killing, looting and pillaging. Micopax, the European Union-funded peace-keeping force in CAR, has made no effort to engage the rebels. International Crisis Group (ICG) finds this ‘disturbing’ and wonders if Micopax has been instructed to stand aside. According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), ‘One of the first targets was the Bangui Cathedral, where Seleka rebels entered the church, fired in the air, and robbed the worshippers.’ Something HRW and ICG both fail to mention is that whereas CAR is a French-speaking, mostly Christian country (76 percent Christian according to Operation World), the rebels who have seized power are Arabic-speaking Muslims.
The rebels, who claim to be liberating CAR from the dictator Bozizé, hail from the Vakaga district, a poor, remote north-east region of CAR bordering Chad and Sudan. Vakaga is the only part of the CAR where Arabic is the common language and Islam the dominant religion. Despite their poverty, the rebels entered Bangui wearing brand new military uniforms, driving brand new pickups and brandishing brand new weapons. Amongst them were janjaweed (gunmen) from Darfur, Sudan, and jihadis from Mali and Northern Nigeria. In a FIDES press release, Church leaders in CAR denounce ‘a rebellion characterised by religious extremism’. They describe a systematic and ‘planned desecration and destruction of religious Christian buildings, and in particular the Catholic and Protestant churches’. They lament the heavy price the Church is paying, with churches destroyed and ‘priests and religious women’ attacked.
Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga has written a courageous letter to the self-proclaimed new president, rebel leader Michel Djotodia, listing Seleka’s crimes: ‘threats, terror, and psychological torture . . . rape of young girls and women, some of whom have committed suicide [and] recruitment of child soldiers’. Observing that Seleka consists ‘largely of foreign Muslims and some from the nation’, the prelate notes that ‘the Muslim population [in Bangui] was largely spared looting’, and asks, ‘What are the real intentions of this movement against our Christian institutions?’ According to one missionary’s blog, hospitals and charities have all been looted. ‘Rebels do not save anybody or anything,’ she writes, ‘except for mosques and Muslim traders, who buy the stolen property from them.’
The questions arising out of this crisis are enormous and ugly. Who is funding and equipping Seleka and with what aim? Why did France not intervene in CAR, when it intervened in Ivory Coast (to support Islamic rebels) and in Mali (to fight Islamic rebels)? Why is the US refusing to send aid? Why did the EU-funded Micopax not protect CAR civilians as it is paid to do? In early 2011, Ivory Coast’s president Laurent Gbagbo — who believed in advancing African rather than Western interests — found himself the victim of regime change at the hands of Islamic forces backed by Western powers pursuing Western ‘interests’. Could the same be happening in CAR? President Bozizé had recently signed oil concessions over to Chinese and South African companies. Soon after proclaiming himself president, rebel leader Michel Djotodia promised to ‘sort out’ CAR’s mining and oil contracts. If these contracts are handed to Western powers, then we will have most of our answers. Meanwhile, Seleka has seized control of CAR’s extensive diamond industry. The global body of Christ must stand united, demanding truth — no matter how unpalatable — and justice. She must speak up for the Church in CAR and remember them in prayer as they have to navigate this crisis.
Central African Republic (CAR): threat of the LRA
A rebel army known as Seleka (‘alliance’) has seized control of Central African Republic. What international media and human rights organisations are failing to acknowledge is that while CAR is French-speaking and 76 percent Christian, the supposedly poor and marginalised yet exceedingly well-armed rebels are Arabic-speaking Muslims with many foreign jihadis in their ranks. While France (the colonial power) refused to aid the government — something that triggered angry protests outside the French Embassy in Bangui — French soldiers are now patrolling the streets at the behest of the rebels. Targeted attacks against churches and religious workers have led church leaders to question Seleka’s intentions. Many other questions remain unanswered too, such as: ‘Who backed this regime change and why?’
As if this were not bad enough, another threat hangs over the Christians of CAR: the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The LRA is a Ugandan rebel militia that emerged to wreak terror in Uganda’s impoverished and marginalised north in the 1980s. However, when the Islamic regime in Sudan started sponsoring it, LRA activities expanded to fighting all of Khartoum’s ‘enemies’, such as Uganda and its allies in southern Sudan.
The LRA is nothing more than a blasphemous, terrorist cult-militia, being mainly lightly armed foot-soldiers (presently 300), and drugged, conscripted child soldiers (presently 600). Yet for 16 years, the LRA’s campaign of terror has been unstoppable in northern Uganda and Southern Sudan. They have kidnapped more than 10,000 children for front-line fighting.
Calling themselves “The Lord’s” army, they claim to want a government built on the Biblical Ten Commandments. However, their trademark is unrivalled cruelty, brutality and raw, sadistic evil. The LRA receives support from the defeated and exiled Holy Spirit force established by the Catholic heretic and self-proclaimed prophetess, Alice Lakwena. However, the bulk of LRA funding, training and arms has come from the National Islamic Front in Khartoum, Sudan.
The LRA’s leader is Joseph Kony, a spirit medium controlling his fighters through his aura of terror and mysticism. A social worker helping rescued LRA child soldiers says the children tell her that whatever Kony says when he gets possessed comes exactly true. When Kony is possessed the children are supposed to sing and worship. She says, “I believe there is a deadly evil spirit misleading him. I’m not sure if they worship Kony or if they worship the spirit that is in Kony. They say the reason Kony kills so many people is because the spirit in him feeds on fresh human blood.” There is little doubt the appalling blasphemy and extreme cruelty and evil of the LRA is demonic.
The first call to prayer went out on 14 May 2003. This was immediately followed by an unprecedented mass of defections from the LRA to the Acholi Religious Leaders’ Peace Initiative. Kony responded on 14 June 2003 by ordering his troops to ‘kill all clergy’. An urgent call to prayer was immediately issued, that God would ‘bind all the demonic spirits allied with Joseph Kony and the LRA, to keep drawing defectors from all ranks of the LRA, and to effect the escape and rescue of hundreds of abducted children.’ We prayed also for God to protect and bless all ‘clergy, nuns, and Christian workers, especially those in front-line danger.’ To each request, God answered, “Yes!” Over the next 12-18 months, intercessors continued to battle against the LRA. Eventually the group was so decimated that violence had subsided greatly and redevelopment had begun.
But the LRA was not dead! Now just a band of some 200 fighters, the LRA still conducts hit and run raids, usually just for food, rarely to kidnap, but sometimes just to kill. In recent years the LRA has moved its operations into northern Congo and CAR. In February 2010 they killed two and wounded many others in an attack on a church in the southern CAR town of Rafai.
Today the LRA has sanctuary in Sudan’s contested territory of Kafia Kingi in southern Darfur bordering north-east CAR. In October 2011 US Special Operations troops entered CAR to assist African troops in the hunt for LRA leader, Joseph Kony, a former Catholic altar-boy turned blood-thirsty spirit medium. The Seleka coup has brought that to a halt. Analysts fear the chaos and insecurity in CAR will work to the LRA’s advantage, enabling it to re-group and replenish supplies. The LRA has weapons from Sudan, but what they need is children. According to Voice of America, the US is now waiting to see ‘how Seleka might pursue Kony’. One of the problems with the hunt for Kony has been the militarisation of large regions where soldiers tend to abuse civilians just as much as the LRA does! Because the hunt is so profoundly fruitless — Kony has been a wanted man for some 30 years — it well may be that the thousands of soldiers being paid to hunt Kony believe it is not in their economic interests to find him. If the US brokers a deal with Seleka on the pretext that Seleka rebels will ‘pursue Kony’ — maybe even arming and funding them to do so — then the threat to the Church will only be multiplied. The Church in CAR desperately needs our prayers.