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Russian Mercenaries Detain Central African Republic Senior Military Officers

One Colonel Moussa Kitoko was accused of having sold arms to rebels of the FPRC and subsequently arrested by the Russians.

There is an uneasy calm among the ranks of the Central African Republic national army, FACA, following the arrest and detention of some senior officers of the country’s army by Russian mercenaries.

“After the arrest by Russian mercenaries of General Ludovic Ngaifei, former chief of army staff, followed by that of Colonel Moussa Kitoko, Commander of the northwest defense zone, as well as the arrest of Captain and head of the army detachment in Bria, it is now the turns of Colonel Rodongo, chief of the transmission battalion detached to Kaga-Bandoro and adjudant Guetel, head of the detention facility in Berberati,” said a senior FACA officer who opted for anonymity for his safety. 

According to the FACA senior officer, all those arrested have been transferred to Bangui and detained in the research and investigation section of the national gendarmerie on the instructions of the Russian mercenaries. 

“Even after certain officers and sub-officers last month sent a memorandum to the government denouncing the profound humiliations FACA officers and rank-and-file have been suffering under the Russian mercenaries, the government does not seem to be concerned with what is happening,” the distraught officer said. 

“The Russian mercenaries who have been openly declaring that they depend only on the Presidency of the Republic are in the process of constituting their own military prisoners in the capital Bangui and this under the noses and watchful eyes of the military high command and the Presidency of the Republic. However, the situation has started generating disquiet within the army.”

General Ludovic Ngaifei, the former chief of army staff, was accused of plotting a coup d’etat. He was arrested by the Russian mercenaries and placed in detention in the Roux Camp prison.

Colonel Moussa Kitoko was accused of having sold arms to rebels of the FPRC and subsequently arrested by the Russians.

When the Russian mercenaries arrived in Bria to arrest the captain who is in charge of the FACA detachment in the town, he escaped to the camp of the UN Blue Helmets but the Russians went there and put pressure on the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) to release him to them. 

However, the military high command in Bangui, the national capital, has not made any official statement on the matter. At the Presidency of the Republic, the Russian mercenaries are being congratulated for doing a good job.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Madam Sylvie Baipo Temon had in an interview last week blamed FACA of committing exactions on the populations.

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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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