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CAR pays state wages for first time in six months

Civil servants queue in front of a bank in order to get paid after a month of wage arrears on March 10, 2014 in Bangui. (AFP-PHOTO/ SIA KAMBOU)

BANGUI: State officials in the Central African Republic were paid their first wage for six months Monday, a small sign of normality in a country that has been paralyzed by war for over a year.

Huge lines of state employees, impatient for their first pay packets since September 2013, formed outside the major banks in the capital Bangui Monday.

“Better one month than nothing. We’re barely living,” paramedic Jean Nguelebo told AFP.

“If the government makes the effort, we may be able to get one or two more months – if the Treasury allows.”

French President Francois Hollande said that state employees’ salaries would be paid quickly via agents in other countries during a visit to Bangui on Feb. 28.

The Central African Republic has been torn apart by bloody sectarian clashes since the mostly Muslim Seleka rebels ousted President Francois Bozize in March 2013 and replaced him with their leader Michel Djotodia, who was himself forced out in January.

A group of U.N.-mandated investigators said Monday they would launch a probe into human rights violations in the conflict-ravaged country amid fears of genocide and ethnic cleansing.

The crisis has paralyzed the country’s administration, starting with its public finances, which has crippled the state’s ability to pay its employees.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 11, 2014, on page 10.

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