Batangafo town in the Central African Republic town of Batangafo ground to a halt as traders Tuesday, August 30, 2022, began a three-day sit-in strike in protest against abuses by elements of the Central African Republic army, FACA.
A trade union leader who opted for anonymity confirmed the execution to HumAngle. “Because Russian mercenaries trained them, they are now behaving exactly like the Russians,” he said, adding that “the FACA soldiers have become custom officers, tax agents, council agents, forestry and water agents etc.”
“Sometimes, they meet a trader on a motorcycle and stop it to conduct customs and gendarme checks. They demand the customs documents of the motorcycle, the insurance etc. If the trader does not furnish what they demand, they fine him to pay sums ranging from 100,000 to 300,000 FCFA (about $600),” another trader revealed, adding that the FACA soldiers have become highway bandits.
“Sometimes they come to a trader’s house and arrest him and, just like a joke, accuse him of being an informant or collaborator of the rebels. Sometimes they tell the trader that he had called the telephone number of rebel leader Alkhatim and for nothing, impose a ransom that can be in the hundreds of thousands of FCFA before setting the trader free, if not he can even be killed,” revealed another trader in the town.
On their part, the FACA soldiers are threatening that should the traders observe the three-day strike, they will regret it for the rest of their lives.
Attempts to get any senior military officer to reply to the accusations by the traders were abortive as all those contacted said they were not authorised to speak on behalf of the army.
Right now, the prefect, the sub-prefect and the mayor of Batangafo are concerting to arrive at an amicable solution to the strike action.
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