For Deploying Child Soldiers, Central African Republic's Michel Djotodia Must Be Investigated For War Crimes
The initial reaction of several African leaders to the ouster of the François Bozizé the Central African Republic's president is good.
During a meeting in Chad to discuss the takeover of the Central African Republic (CAR) by a collection of insurgents called Seleka, the African presidents refused to recognize Michel Djotodia the new self-declared president, who had also said he would rule for three years while guiding the country to elections.
The African presidents have said that won't happen.
They have called for the creation of a governing council and for elections to be held in a year. They are not calling for the return of Bozizé, who himself had first seized power by force of arms in 2002, before running in elections. The deposed ruler had entered a peace pact with Djotodia; yet neither has any democratic credentials.
The presidents meeting in Chad have adopted a position consistent with that of the African Union's (AU). That position is not to recognize governments that come into power by force of arms.
In that sense Africa is heading in the right direction.
Djotodia's takeover is curious, to say the least. Ugandan troops and American Special Forces, reportedly hunting for Joseph Kony leader of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) are in CAR. There are also hundreds of French soldiers; presumably they had no problem with Seleka's takeover. At least not in the way they opposed the insurgents who briefly seized Timbuktu and large parts of Mali.
A more complete story will soon emerge given that timeless wise saying: Follow the money.
Djotodia, the Seleka leader abandoned a peace deal he had signed with Bozizé in December. Now that African leaders have rebuffed his power-grab he's agreed to their demands that a council be established. Presumably, he hopes to be a part of this proposed governing council and perhaps to become transitional president.
That too must not happen.
Michel Djotodia must be investigated on possible war crimes for the deployment of child-soldiers as part of Seleka's forces. Many of these children were reportedly killed during Seleka's battles with South African soldiers deployed in CAR to protect the government. Thirteen South African soldiers died.
The international community can't claim to be searching for Kony, leader of the LRA in CAR, on the one hand, while allowing a possible war criminal like Djotodia to install himself as president.
Charges for abusing children would send a strong message to others like Djotodia allover Africa.