by Staff Writers
Bangui, Central African Republic (AFP) Jan 13, 2014
Hundreds of deserting Central African Republic soldiers and police returned to their commands on Monday as the interim president said "the party is over" following weeks of deadly sectarian violence.
The soldiers and police had deserted for fear of being killed or joined a Christian militia who had opposed Michel Djotodia, the mainly Christian country's first Muslim president who resigned Friday under international pressure.
Soldiers, almost all of them in civilian clothes, were seen by AFP signing up for duty at a building in the capital Bangui after chief of staff General Ferdinand Bomboyeke urged the troops to return to barracks by Monday.
"They came in very large numbers and they're still coming," Colonel Desire Bakossa, who supervised the registration, told AFP.
"They answered the general's call. It's a relief. It's a very good sign."
Similar centres have opened in Bangui for police to register after many of them deserted too.
Several thousand soldiers and police left their units in the last few months, many of them fearing reprisals from the ex-Seleka rebels who brought Djotodia to power in March.
Others joined the Christian anti-balaka militia formed to defend against the ex-Seleka rebels or avenge abuses they committed.
"I'm very happy to see again my brothers in arms," said adjutant Jacky-Morel Gbabja, who fled his unit in December to take shelter with his family.
Meanwhile, the speaker of the country's provisional parliament and interim president Alexandre-Ferdinand Nguendet promised that "anarchy has ended" during a speech at police headquarters.
"To the ex-Seleka, to the anti-balaka and the lovers of looting, I'm giving you a severe warning: The party is over," Nguendet told a group that included policemen who had returned to the force after deserting.
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