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Ethiopia: CAR President relaxes dawn-to-dusk curfew in Bangui

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - Interim Central Africa Republic (CAR) President, Catherine Samba Panza, has signed a new law relaxing the dawn-to-dusk curfew in what was seen as a pointer to rapid improvements to the security situation in the troubled country.

The African-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (MISCA) said it was pleased Tuesday, with the development.

It said the signing of the new order is a sign that the interventions in the country had drastically improved security.

President Panza signed a decree on 13 March 2014, changing the curfew time across the entire Central African territory, from 11 pm to 5 am.

“The curfew was introduced after the tragic events of 5 December 2013 and the attendant security problems,” a spokesperson for MISCA said.

This was the second time the government has acted to cut the curfew hours since a 13 February 2014 decision to shorten the curfew hours from 8.00 pm to 5.00 am. Earlier, the dusk to dawn curfew (6.00 pm to 6.00 am) existed in the troubled country.

Fighting between the members of the former Seleka rebel coalition, which came to power after ousting former President Francois Bozize and the Anti-Balaka rebels, forced the curfew.

“This change bears evidence to the undeniable improvement in the security situation, thanks to the efforts by MISCA and the French Sangaris operation,” said Gen. Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko, the African Union’s Special Envoy and Head of MISCA.

“We will continue to implement our mandate in a robust and impartial manner and neutralise all armed elements which try to undermine the process of restoring peace and the security and the promotion of national reconciliation,” Gen. Mokoko said.

Security has been worsening in the CAR as a result of the staggered implementation of previous peace agreements, combined with chronic under-development and the country’s long experience of political instability, which led to the outbreak of a new conflict in December 2012.

Despite the signing of an 11 January 2013 agreement in Libreville to initiate a transition period, tension resulted in the violent seizure of power by SELEKA rebel groups in March 2013.

The European Union (EU) said Monday the current crisis has affected 4.6 million people, half of them children. More than half of the Central Africans are in need of aid.

There are over 657,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in CAR. The crisis has forced an estimated 188,000 people to seek refuge in neighbouring countries.

Gen. Mokoko urged the CAR civilians to “redouble their vigilance to counter the negative action of the illegal armed groups and complete the actual restoration of the authority of the Central African State throughout the entire national territory.

The MISCA chief warned the armed groups that his forces would continue to neutralize them.

Pana 19/03/2014