Central African Republic To Deploy Former UPC Rebels Trained In Russia To Mali

The former rebels were trained by the Wagner security group in Russia and have been deployed by CAR to Mali.

About 100 former Unite pour la Paix en Centrafrique (UPC) rebels affiliated to the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC) trained in Russia are to be deployed to Mali to help the country in its fight against Jihadists.

The former rebels returned to the Central African Republic last week from a three-week training programme in Russia. 

They had laid down their arms before being selected for further training in a Wagner Security Group facility in Russia.

Security sources say the Wagner Security bosses felt it was necessary to train the ex-rebels on the manipulation of Russian arms.

Sources within Wagner Security describe the ex-rebels as being “hardened men” after their Russian training, adding that “they are not afraid of death and know how to tactically move about during combat. They are best suited to confront the jihadists.”

However, some military sources in Bangui say the Central African Republic terrain is very different from that of Mali.

“Here in the Central African Republic, you have the savannah and forests but Mali is predominantly desert and it is very difficult to hide there and fight the jihadists. One has to also regularly be on the lookout for secondary enemies who are scorpions found all over the desert,” a military source in Bangui said.

One of the most prominent members of the ex-UPC combatants to be deployed to Mali is Kiri, a former bodyguard to rebel leader Ali Darassa who was last year wounded in combat around Bambari.

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Chief Bisong Etahoben

Chief Bisong Etahoben is a Cameroonian investigative journalist and traditional ruler. He writes for international media and has participated in several transnational investigations. Etahoben won the first-ever Cameroon Investigative Journalist Award in 1992. He serves as a member of a number of international investigative journalism professional bodies including the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR). He is HumAngle's Francophone and Central Africa editor.

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