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Security Situation In CAR Remains Volatile After Elections

Hopes that some relative peace would return to the war-torn Central African Republic after the legislative and presidential elections of December 27, 2020, have been dashed following continued attacks on various localities by rebel groups in the country.

The latest attacks were on the towns of Bouar and Grimari where clashes continue as this report is being filed.

The continued attacks have forced the former colonial master of the country, France, to issue a second statement in two weeks condemning the continued attacks by rebel groups.

In a telephone conversation between the Central African Republic head of state President Faustin Archange Touadera and French leader, Emmanuel Macron, the French President reiterated “his firm condemnation of armed groups and certain political leaders, meaning Francois Bozize who are trying to delegitimize the peace accords and the constitutional electoral process”.

According to a communique issued by the Elysee Palace (French Presidency), the French president also took note of the provisional election results and underlined the necessity of an open and inclusive political dialogue.

This position by the French president comes at a time when the former colonial master has been losing the grip on the Central African Republic and is being consistently criticized by the political class in the country.

Nevertheless, the French military has been giving tacit support to the government in Bangui and one of its latest operations was on December 23, 2020, when French mirage fighters flew at low altitudes west of the capital and also on the Mbaiki road around Bimbo. 

They also flew over positions on the Boali and Damara roads.

French fighter jets also supported the Central African Republic national army popularly known by its French acronym FACA and the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) forces in Camp Leclerc in Bouar by making three dissuasive passes over the positions of the rebel Coalition for Patriots of the Central African Republic (CPC), French military sources revealed.

Central African government forces supported by MINUSCA combatants Saturday, January 9, 2021, were involved in violent clashes with CPC forces in Bouar and calm only returned around 16 hours in the evening.

 A government spokesperson said Saturday that the rebel forces had been chased out of the town.

Since the withdrawal of the French forces of Operation Sangaris, the military presence of France in the Central African Republic has been reduced to the barest minimum with just a detachment for operational assistance dedicated to the protection of the Bangui Mpoko airport.

Since the formation of the CPC rebel coalition in December 2020, only Rwandan and Russian mercenaries have been assisting FACA within the context of bilateral defence accords.

Meanwhile, civil society groups are expressing disquiet over the presence of armed groups in Bangassou, situated 750 kilometres from the capital Bangui. 

The town was attacked last Sunday and remains in the hands of CPC rebel forces. 

It is difficult to estimate how many rebel forces are currently stationed in Bangassou but their presence has forced thousands of people to flee from the town into bushes and neighbouring Congo.

It is estimated that more than 10,000 people have fled from Bangassou since the beginning of the offensive and there is the fear of a humanitarian catastrophe.

Several persons are reported to have drowned in the Oubangui river as they struggled to escape to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“All entry and exit routes of the town have been blocked and it is the rebels who control Bangassou,”  revealed Vermont Bandassa, a civil society person.

“They are at the gendarmerie, at the police station and at the Council building, As long as the rebels remain in Bangassou, activities would be paralysed and the population would remain in the bushes.”

The rebels last week sacked the premises of several international humanitarian organisations based in the town as well as commercial businesses. 

The big market which is close to the military camp remains closed.

“What is going to happen if the CPC rebels remain longer in the town? They have been here for over a week now. When will they leave? When they would no longer have what to eat after they finish eating what they looted from the NGOs, they would surely fall on the populations to get what to meet up with their demands”, declared Ghislain Mbari of the civil society.

The Bangassou Member of Parliament, Serge Singha, also expressed disquiet over the humanitarian situation in his constituency where the stocks of the NGOs have been completely looted and they are no longer in a position to be of assistance to 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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