EXCLUSIVE: Mercenaries worsening conflict in CAR

Central African Republic (CAR) President Faustin-Archange Touadéra

from OMAN MBIKO in Bangui, Central African Republic
BANGUI, (CAJ News) – THE escalating conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR) highlights the role played by mercenaries from neighbouring countries in inflaming tensions in a troubled nation.

CAR is in the throes of anarchy after polls held at the end of last year.

Chad, CAR’s northern neighboru, and Sudan, to the northeast, have emerged as hideouts of radicals that infiltrate CAR’s borders and commit numerous acts of violence.

This adds to the atrocities already committed by rebel groups that have intensified their attacks since then December 27 elections that retained incumbent, President Faustin-Archange Touadéra’, with 53,9 percent of the vote.

The mixed response Chad and Sudan to the request by Touadéra’s request relating to the closure of respective borders to curb the illegal flows of militiamen and weapons also highlights differences among African nations with regards to a commitment to ensuring a conflict-free continent.

Chad has apparently turned a blind eye to the role of local mercenaries in the CAR crisis and turned a deaf ear to the request by the government of Touadéra for the sealing of borders.

Chad is a military heavyweight in the restive Central African region.

Its defiance to close borders is seen as President Idriss Deby Itno’s backing of the former, disgraced CAR president, François Bozizé Yangouvonda.

Bozizé, president from 2003 to 2013, is a central figure in the conflict in his country as rebel groups opposed to his disqualification from the elections have intensified their insurgency.

Sudan on the other hand has heeded the request from CAR. In 2019, it closed the borders with the troubled country to stem the flows of the soldiers of fortunes and weapons to Bangui.

Sudan’s Sovereignty Council is also considering blocking the road to Am dafok, the Central African border town.

This is aimed at curtailing the penetration of illegal groupings.

Meanwhile, to the west of CAR lies Cameroon, which is not mentioned in the same breath as Chad and Sudan regarding mercenaries.

It remains the main corridor for aid to millions suffering in the CAR but rebel groups have blocked access.

At the time of publication, 1 600 trucks en-route to CAR were stranded at the border with Cameroon.

Affected trucks include 500 carrying humanitarian aid from the United Nations (UN) and its partners.

“These armed groups and their political allies are responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law as well as human rights enshrined in international and national instruments,” Vladimir Monteiro, spokesperson of the UN peacekeeping mission in CAR (MINUSCA) said.

The presence of Rwandan and Russian troops has also come in handy in repelling the rebels.

Recently, the allied forces conducted an operation to clean up a militants’ base near the village of Bondokpo.

The rebels were defeated and fled to the north.

Worsening tensions in CAR have dashed hopes of stability that elections sought to restore.

There is also concern among the international community.

In a January 5 statement, the UN and regional organisations cautioned against disinformation, incitement and hate speech.

It urged all parties to accept and respect the decisions of the Constitutional Court on the final results.

The Red Cross reports that nearly 100 000 people fled the fighting that broke out between government and armed groups since elections.

More than 84 000 of the civilians have sought refuge in neighbouring countries.

– CAJ News

 

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