At least 6 killed in C.African violence flare-up

Photo showing the father and brother of a civilian said to have been killled clashes between MINUSCA (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission) peacekeepers and PK5 armed groups, PK5 district of Bangui, April 21, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 01 May 2018
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At least 6 killed in C.African violence flare-up

Bangui: At least 6 people were killed and nearly a hundred wounded on Tuesday in clashes between militia and security forces in the capital of the Central African Republic, sources said.
The UN mission MINUSCA said it stepped up patrols after the fighting erupted in Bangui’s mainly Muslim PK5 district, an area that has become a flashpoint in a country weakened by sectarian violence and dogged by militia rule.
Security sources in PK5 said a shootout started after men in a militia group which is led by an individual calling himself Force rammed through a roadblock.
Hospital sources said at least 16 people died, including a priest and a child, while 96 people were being treated for wounds.
The priest was named as Toungoumale Baba, who died in the nearby district of Fatima, a church source said earlier. There were no immediate details about the circumstances of his death.
As hostile crowds gathered at various points in the city, UN mission MINUSCA said it sent patrols “to secure the [PK5] zone and other key points” in Bangui.
It also sent a patrol to the district of Lakouanga, where a mosque was set on fire by demonstrators, MINUSCA spokesman Vladimir Monteiro told AFP.
The medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) issued a statement saying “an angry crowd gathered in front of the gates” at Sica hospital.
It appealed for “hospitals to be respected,” regardless of individual religious or politcal affiliations.
The incident came after hours-long clashes in PK5 on April 10 killed 28 people, including a UN peacekeeper, and left more than 100 wounded.
According to MINUSCA, the fighting began when a joint patrol of Rwandan UN troops and the Central African army was attacked on the district’s outskirts as they pursued a security sweep against militia groups.
In a dramatic protest, local people brought in 17 bloodied corpses with bullet wounds and laid them in front of the UN base in the center of Bangui.
They said those who died were simply unarmed civilians — a version contested by MINUSCA, which is struggling to overcome accusations of inaction and sexual abuse by some of its troops in the past.
One of the world’s poorest and most unstable countries, the CAR spiralled into bloodshed after longtime leader Francois Bozize was overthrown in 2013 by a mainly Muslim rebel alliance called the Seleka.
France intervened militarily from 2013 to 2016 to push out the Seleka, winding down the operation after Bozize’s successor, Faustin-Archange Touadera, was elected president.
But despite UN backing, Touadera can only claim to control a fraction of the country.
The rest is in the sway of ex-rebels and vigilante militias, many of them claiming to act in the name of the Muslim or Christian community.
Tensions within the PK5 district, a major economic hub, have been running high for months, stoked by resentment among traders over demands to pay protection money to so-called self-defense groups.


Modi secures a second five-year term with landslide win in Indian elections

Updated 7 min 6 sec ago
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Modi secures a second five-year term with landslide win in Indian elections

  • Narendra Modi becomes first Indian prime minister in 40 years to return to power with a majority
  • Election results are a big blow to Rahul Gandhi-led opposition Congress party

NEW DELHI: India’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday scored a landslide election victory, increasing its seats in Parliament after a bitter and divisive campaign.

The results amount to a massive blow for the 133-year-old Congress Party, which dominated India’s political life for more than 50 years after the country gained independence in 1947. Narendra Modi has made history by becoming India’s first prime minister in the last 40 years to be re-elected with a parliamentary majority.

The BJP on its own is expected to have a little over 300 seats in the Lok Sabha (lower house), more than it had in the outgoing chamber. The ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA), of which the BJP is a part, will have nearly 350 MPs in the Lok Sabha.

The Congress Party is expected to finish with just 55 seats, albeit 11 more than its 2014 election tally. By most projections, the Congress-led opposition alliance will not even have 100 seats. Congress Party President Rahul Gandhi suffered a major personal setback in the family borough, the constituency of Amethi in northern India, where he lost to a Modi Cabinet minister. But Gandhi won his second seat in Wayanad in the south by a big margin. 

“I concede defeat and congratulate Prime Minister Narendra Modi for winning the elections,” Gandhi said on Thursday. He has offered to resign from his post in his party’s most powerful organizational body, the Congress Working Committee, but political analysts say it is highly unlikely that his resignation will be accepted.

The margin of the BJP’s victory has come as a surprise to many, with the party not only retaining its seats in the battleground states of northern and western India, but also expanding its footprint in two eastern states: West Bengal and Odisha. “Together, we’ll build a strong and inclusive India. India wins yet again!” Modi tweeted after the results showed the BJP sweeping to victory.

Shashi Shekhar, a New Delhi-based political analyst, told Arab News: “This is a phenomenal election victory that has stumped all the pollsters. The BJP was expected to face a big challenge from the opposition alliance in some of the crucial states, such as Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, which together account for 128 seats. But it seems the narrative of muscular nationalism propagated by the BJP overcame all challenges. There’s a now a genuine fear that if the BJP continues with its old policy of marginalizing religious minorities, India might turn into a majoritarian state. However, I hope Modi’s second term turns out to be more inclusive.”

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Sudheendra Kulkarni, a Mumbai-based political commentator, said: “The Congress Party failed to capture the imagination of the people. The party’s slogans didn’t click with voters the way the BJP’s did.”

Against this backdrop of an imminent decisive win, Modi began to receive messages of congratulations from world leaders on Thursday. Among them was Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan. “I congratulate Prime Minister Modi on the electoral victory of BJP and allies. Look forward to working with him for peace, progress and prosperity in South Asia,” Khan tweeted.

In his second term, in addition to addressing economic problems at home, Modi will need to keep a close eye on relations with neighboring Pakistan. Bilateral relations remain tense months after they came close to war following a deadly attack in Indian-administered Kashmir on paramilitary soldiers, and an Indian air raid deep inside Pakistan.

“There’s no alternative to dialogue,” said Kulkarni. “We should expect that with a renewed mandate (for Modi’s government), there should be a fresh attempt to engage with Islamabad.”