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Russian Mercenaries Arrest, Detain Mayor Of Batangafo In Central African Republic

A Mayor has been arrested and detained by Russian mercenaries fighting alongside the CAR military , FACA, in the country.

The Mayor of Batangafo, the chief town of the Ouham-Fafa district in the Central African Republic was on Saturday, April 17, arrested by Russian mercenaries fighting alongside the national army in the country.

Mahamat Takadji was arrested before midday on Saturday by the Russians who have since detained him based on the allegation that he is an illegal mayor and was not appointed by President Faustin Archange Touadera.

Since Batangafo was recaptured from rebels of the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC) by the national army and its Rwandan and Russian allies, the Russian combatants of Wagner Security have been visiting a reign of terror on the local populations.

“Illegal arrests and detentions have become the order of the day here. Nobody feels safe anymore,” a member of the community told HumAngle.

He argued that the Russian mercenaries do not have the right to arrest and detain the mayor even if it was true that the president did not appoint him mayor.

“They have been looting businesses and extorting money from the local populations. They behave as an occupation army lording it over war spoils. It is really frightening,” the resident added.

Attempts by HumAngle to reach the sub-prefect of Batangafo for comments were futile as the official was said to be unavailable.  The same excuse was given at the Ministry of Territorial Administration where nobody was willing to talk with officials claiming the situation was a very sensitive one.

However, inhabitants of Batangafo have expressed mixed feelings concerning the arrest of their Mayor. Some people are of the opinion that it was time to put an end to the chaotic administration of the Mayor.

“For the past three years since he has been Mayor, he has been accused of several misdemeanours including involvement in the 2019 holdup and theft from an international humanitarian organisation in the town,” another resident said.

“Whatever the case, they should just have replaced him instead of arresting and detaining him.”

On the night of Sunday, October 27, 2019, at about 11 p.m., a commando of 14 individuals armed with automatic weapons attacked the local office of the British international humanitarian organisation, Oxfam and stole a huge sum of money as well as computers, printers and scanners.

Investigations eventually discovered that the holdup succeeded due to a circumstantial alliance between a group of seven combatants of the Mouvement Patriotique pour la Centrafrique (MPC) and seven other rebels of the Anti-Balaka rebel movement with the benediction of Mayor Mahamat Takadji.

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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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