Despite an agreement by militant groups there to disarm, sporadic violence continues in the Central African Republic. In the most recent incident, some 42 people traveling by truck in central C.A.R. were killed in an ambush August 24. Gunmen forced the vehicle to stop by shooting its tires, then its passengers, as it entered a village northeast of the capital, Bangui.
The United States is committed to working with others in the international community to prevent further destabilization in C.A.R. and to bring peace and security to its people. To that end, the U.S. Treasury Department has imposed sanctions against three men leading groups threatening the peace, security or stability there. Action was also taken against adiamond company and its Belgian affiliate that are helping fuel the violence through an illicit trade in C.A.R.’s natural resources. Any assets these individuals and entities may have under U.S. jurisdiction are now frozen, and Americans are generally prohibited from doing business with them.
Sanctioned were Alfred Yekatom, commander of anti-balaka forces in and around Bangui suspected of conducting an ethnic cleansing campaign against Muslims; Habib Soussou, an anti-balaka commander who has repeatedly threatened Muslims and organizations distributing food aid to them; and Oumar Younous, a senior Seleka commander involved in the illicit diamond trade. BADICA, one of the largest diamond companies in the C.A.R., and KARDIAM, BADICA’s branch in Antwerp, Belgium, were sanctioned for making illicit payments to Seleka leaders to obtain diamonds from mines under the group’s control and smuggle them out of the country.
The sanctions, which are in line with sanctions measures taken at the United Nations Security Council, follow several steps our nation is taking to address the critical needs in the C.A.R.
The United States strongly supports the transitional government and the efforts of the people of C.A.R. to find lasting peace and security. Over the past two years, we have committed more than $800 million in humanitarian aid, peacekeeping support, and investments in reconciliation and rule of law.
Ultimately, however, the people of C.A.R. hold their future in their own hands. We continue to urge all parties to end the violence, prepare and participate in the elections process, refrain from supporting spoilers whose motives are counter to long-term stability and peace, and move ahead toward a better future for their nation and people.