About 100 youths in the Central African Republic capital, Bangui, are threatening to embark on street protest against “the corrupt practices of Gen. Eric Gambi, the commandant of the Presidential Guard.
The youths accused the senior army officer of demanding and receiving bribe money from them with the promise to recruit them into the elite unit of the Central African Army.
“He collected 300,000 FCFA (about $600) from me promising he would get me recruited into the Presidential Guard,” one 25-year-old man who opted for anonymity for fear for his life told HumAngle in Bangui on Wednesday.
“To date, he has done nothing and refuses to see me and has even been threatening me with arrest.”
“I had to give out a piece of our family land as a guarantee for a loan to raise the bribe money Commandant Eric Gambi demanded from me,” revealed another youth.
Many more youths told HumAngle how they had made one payment or another to the general to get them into the service.
“There is a certain man who is a commandant of the national army. He is called Gambi Eric and he promised to integrate us into the Presidential Guard,” one youth told journalists on Thursday morning.
“To this end, he gave us forms to fill. He also demanded and collected money from us. Unfortunately, since then he is nowhere to be found,” the youth alleged.
They are threatening to mobilise and block the streets if authorities failed to arrest the ‘corrupt general’.
“We have spent so much yet there is no solution in sight to our problem. If they don’t give us an immediate response, we will move to a higher gear and block the streets to show our anger,” another youth shouted.
“We will block the streets in the capital until Eric Gambi is arrested by the gendarmerie,” he added.
All attempts to get into contact with the accused officer have been futile as he does not pick up calls and has not been granting audience to anyone
In January, about 50 youths with clean-shaven heads accompanied by their parents arrived at the Bangui Mpoko international airport ostensibly to be flown to Rwanda by military aircraft specially sent by President Paul Kagame to be trained as elite commandos.
The youths were instead arrested and detained by gendarmes.
It eventually turned out that they had been duped by rogue military officers who received money from them who promised to include them in the ghost contingent to Rwanda for commando training.
They were released after three days in detention at the research and investigation section of the gendarmerie.
“This kind of fraud has been flourishing in the Central African Republic because the only exit door from unemployment for youths in the war-torn country is being recruited into the army, ” Kolingba Eugene, a roadside vendor in Bangui, said.
“And even there, in order to be recruited, they are demanded to pay large sums of money as bribe. Besides this, the only other way of getting gainful employment is to belong to the ruling class.”
Crooks very much understand the order of things in the country and so they cash in on the vulnerable youths, some of whom the crooks are.
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