Who are the Seleka Fighters?

by Khephren Fanga

Ten days ago, Seleka signed an agreement with the authorities in Bangui. This rebellion, which led a lightning offensive in the direction of the capital, is known to be an alliance of former rebels. But overall, it remains rather mysterious.

"These are mercenaries from Sudan, wahabbites supported by foreign powers who want to exploit our oil," assured a minister François Bozizé’s former government.

Colonel Juma Narkoyo Christian says loud and clear that the only agenda of the alliance, born 40 days ago, is national. And there are no Islamists in its ranks: "Yesterday, we were treated Islamists and wahabbistes for the simple reason that Islam came from the north and that we are 90% Muslims. What I know is that I am Central african, we are all Central Africans, there is no reason to treat one of us as foreigners.”

The attitude of the fighters on the ground confirms this. They are more often concerned with the idea of taxing visitors a cigarette than preach a legalistic reading of the Qur'an. Today, if Seleka is composed of various active rebels from the north, former military and  disgruntled youth, in the localities of Damara, Sibut Grimari and Bambari, almost all of the troop is the result of the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR).

It is surely no coincidence that the President, Chief of Staff, the Chief Operating Officer and spokesman of the Seleka all come from this movement.

On the ground, fighters are equipped with Kalashnikov rifles bush, rocket launchers, mortars or even knives. The armed all-terrain vehicles are few. A summary weapons but which proved enough to put the army in disarray.

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