The president of the Central African Republic on Thursday confided to reporters that his job is no longer as appealing as it first was when he seized it following a rebellion in March, due to the fact that it is negatively impacting his sleep.
Michel Djotodia was the leader of the Seleka movement when it swept into the capital, Bangui, sending then-president Francoise Bozizé fleeing the country. Djotodia soon thereafter named himself interim president, promising that general elections would be held no later than 2015. While the African Union suspended the Central African Republic for the coup, Djotodia has been feted as the de facto ruler of the CAR, with his government sending its Prime Minister to speak at the United Nations General Assembly in September.
Since then, however, it seems that the trappings of power have lost their allure for Djotodia. “If you don’t sleep, would you cling on to the very thing that stopped you from sleeping?” he asked a group of political leaders on Thursday. “Sometimes you don’t even have thoughts about your wife!” he confided. “Sometimes, I wake up suddenly to ask the security minister what is happening!”
Security, or lack thereof, is definitely the primary cause of Djotodia’s restless nights, as the Seleka fighters he once led are now carrying out wanton attacks on civilians throughout the country. As the majority of the former rebels are Muslim, and have struck out against Christian communities, a group known as the anti-balaka has risen up to challenge them and protect Christians. In doing so, however, they have targeted Muslim civilians, committing atrocities of their own in a tit-for-tat series of reprisal killings that have caused 390,000 Central Africans to be forced to abandon their homes. The two groups clashed directly on Tuesday, sending a still more thousands fleeing into the bush in their wake.
French foreign Minister Laurent Fabius became the latest public figure to warn that the CAR is “on the verge of genocide,” on Thursday echoing similar pronouncements from the likes of the United Nation’s special advisor on genocide prevention and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Mia Farrow. “It’s total disorder,” Fabius told France 2 television, pointing to the lack of doctors, looming food crisis, and the ongoing violence. The United States on Wednesday announced that it would be providing $40 million in assistance to the beleaguered African Union peacekeeping force that is struggling to impose order in a territory the size of France.
For his part, Djotodia added that he is hoping things “changed for the better, so that I can go,” once elections occur, which he will not be competing in.