Central African Republic President Michael Djotodia faces pressure to step down over religious violence

Muslim leader’s exit risks creating greater power vacuum

Michel Djotodia, the Muslim rebel leader who became the interim President of the Central African Republic before a bloody conflict pushed the country towards civil war, agreed to resign on Friday.

On the streets of Bangui, the capital, the announcement was met with jubilation. “Finally we are free. We are going to return home at last,” said Carine Gbegbe from a refugee camp on the southern outskirts of the capital.

More than one in five residents of the overwhelmingly Christian nation have been displaced, and more than 1,000 killed, since fighting between Christian and Muslim militias intensified in December. Across the country many villages are deserted, and in the last month the number of refugees doubled.

The deteriorating security situation led the UN to warn of an impending humanitarian disaster. Djotodia, who seized power in a coup last year, had been under mounting pressure to step aside. But yesterday, some warned that his departure could create an even greater power vacuum in a land long marked by coups and dictatorship.

Ahmat Allami, the secretary-general of the Economic Community of Central African States, announced the resignation of Djotodia after a crisis summit in neighbouring Chad. Legislators from CAR were also flown to the Chadian capital of N’Djamena to join the discussions.

Djotodia’s Prime Minister, Nicolas Tiengaye, a long-time opposition leader before last year’s coup, has also agreed to resign. The departures leave the country in the hands of a weak transitional council. It now has two weeks to find a successor to Djotodia.

Rumours this week that Djotodia would resign had prompted the presidency to release a sharply worded denial. However, it had become clear in the past month that patience with Djotodia was waning within the international community.

Although the President had called for peace in the streets, only French troops and African peacekeepers had been able to stop some of the mob attacks. A frustrated Djotodia responded by saying no one could solve CAR’s problems in just eight months. “I am not God, I hope. I am a man like you. And this country is vast,” he told reporters. “You could bring an angel from the sky to govern this country and there would still be problems.”

CAR has long been one of the world’s most unstable countries. The coup last March brought to power armed rebels, mostly from the minority Muslim population in the north, who carried out atrocities against civilians.

In early December, a Christian militia backed by loyalists of the ousted President François Bozizé attacked the capital. In the violent aftermath, more than 1,000 people were killed and nearly one million fled their homes in fear. About 100,000 have sought shelter at the airport, guarded by French troops.

France has sent some 1,600 troops to stabilise the country and an African peacekeeping force has provided thousands more troops. However, violence still rocks the capital. Muslims who are suspected of collaborating with Djotodia’s rebellion have been stoned to death in the streets and their bodies mutilated.

AP

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and DiCaprio, at an awards show in 2010
filmsDe Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
News
i100
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
Sport
England captain Wayne Rooney during training
FOOTBALLNew captain vows side will deliver against Norway for small crowd
Life and Style
Red or dead: An actor portrays Hungarian countess Elizabeth Báthory, rumoured to have bathed in blood to keep youthful
health
News
peopleJustin Bieber charged with assault and dangerous driving after crashing quad bike into a minivan
News
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Sport
Radamel Falcao poses with his United shirt
FOOTBALLRadamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant in Colombia to Manchester United's star signing
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Front-Office Developer (C#, .NET, Java,Artificial Intelligence)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Front-Of...

C++ Quant Developer

£700 per day: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Developer C++, Python, STL, R, PD...

Java/Calypso Developer

£700 per day: Harrington Starr: Java/Calypso Developer Java, Calypso, J2EE, J...

SQL Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer SQL, C#, Stored Procedures, MDX...

Day In a Page

Chief inspector of GPs: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

Steve Field: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

The man charged with inspecting doctors explains why he may not be welcome in every surgery
Stolen youth: Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing

Stolen youth

Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing
Bob Willoughby: Hollywood's first behind the scenes photographer

Bob Willoughby: The reel deal

He was the photographer who brought documentary photojournalism to Hollywood, changing the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Scorsese in the director's chair with De Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
Angelina Jolie's wedding dress: made by Versace, designed by her children

Made by Versace, designed by her children

Angelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Anyone for pulled chicken?

Pulling chicks

Pulled pork has gone from being a US barbecue secret to a regular on supermarket shelves. Now KFC is trying to tempt us with a chicken version
9 best steam generator irons

9 best steam generator irons

To get through your ironing as swiftly as possible, invest in one of these efficient gadgets
England v Norway: Wayne Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

New captain vows side will deliver for small Wembley crowd
‘We knew he was something special:’ Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing

‘We knew he was something special’

Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing
'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York