INfocus Central African Republic, another French intervention
In a sad reminder of how war has blindly turned neighbors and brothers against one another, even politicians who have fought to trully serve the people are not spared belonging to a different religion are not spared from ethnic cleansing or targeted assassinations. The Central African small town of Mbaiki, (200 kilometers southeast of the capital Bangui) borders the two Congos both the DR Congo and Congo-Brazzaville one of the peaceful countries alongside Cameroon neighboring CAR. Mbaiki's Deputy Mayor Saleh Dido refused to leave his town despite the entire Muslim community including some of his constituents being chased out by their Christian neighbors. Dido insisted he would stay in his hometown having been born and raised there. It made no sense for him to succumb to fear. Ignoring the plea for calm, Dido was killed by a mob of Anti-Balaka supporters who had already dehumanized Muslims and signaled out the deputy mayor for attacks on his home which threatened his family's safety. Saleh Dido was also the last remaining Muslim left in the town. In a scene echoing the ethnic cleansing of black Libyan town of Tarawegha by Misrata rebels or Bosnian town Srebrenica by Serbian forces, the small town of Mbaiki has been officially "cleansed" of its Muslim residents by residents numbed by frenzied revenge for past injustices to realize that violent demonization are taking a toll on them as much as their long time neighbors. Oddly, President Samba-Panza had visited Mbaiki two weeks earlier with the French Defense minister to plea for peace and reconciliation. Mbaiki's recent events is not unique just to the town. Several small towns around the country have seen their Muslim residents pushed if not forced out by mobs and anti-Balaka supporters while French troops watch the exodus. French military chief Francisco Soriano who is in charge of Operation Sangaris named after the Central African butterfly has downplayed the claims by the UN of ethnic cleansing by saying "there is none." For many Central Africans, the declaration would appear like wishful thinking.