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Tension Rises In CAR’s Bria Following Influx Of UPC Fighters

Tension is rising in Central African Republic as the December 27, 2020 elections draw nearer, following the massive influx of combatants of the Unite pour la Paix en Centrafrique (UPC) into the mineral town of Bria, the chief town of Upper Kotto prefecture.

There are fears that a spectre of renewed fighting looms in the Upper Kotto prefecture due to the presence of the combatants who are loyal to the self-proclaimed General Ali Darrassa in Bria and other armed groups located in the area.

With the arrival of Ali Darrassa men, tension has risen to an all-time high within the last 72 hours among various armed groups. security officials said.

Congolese Government officials, as well as senior army officers attached to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), have pointed out that the massive troops’ movement by Ali Darrassa’s men is contrary to the dispositions of the Political Accord for Peace and Reconciliation in the Central African Republic (PAPR-CAR) signed in Khartoum, Sudan and in Bangui between armed groups and the Central African government on June 6, 2019.

“The self-proclaimed Army General Ali Darrassa, one of the signatories of the said Accord, has unfortunately not put an end to the expansionist agenda of his movement in spite of the warning by MINUSCA,” a UN senior military officer who elected for anonymity because he is not authorized to talk on behalf of MINUSCA told HumAngle in Bangui on Sunday.

The official revealed that after invading the prefectures of Upper Mbomou, Ouham, Lower Kotto and Mbomou, Ali Darrassa is now eyeing the mineral-rich region of Upper Kotto in the north-centre of the Central African Republic.

After his visit last week in Bria, during which he ordered the replacement of the Popular Front for the Renaissance of Central Africa popularly known by its French abbreviation FPRC’s general Aba-Tom from his post as commander of the region, Ali Darrassa has within the past four days been deploying his fighters in the town at a time when all the FPRC generals have been invited to Bangui, the capital, by the Government to take part in an inter-group peace meeting under the auspices of President Faustin Archange Touadera.

Meanwhile, Abdoulaye Hissen, the military leader of the FPRC, a  former minister who was also invited to the Bangui meeting, has denounced the manoeuvres of Ali Darrassa whom he described as a coward. 

He has called for the withdrawal of the UPC rebels from Bria. The FPRC generals in Bria have also called for the withdrawal of the UPC forces.

According to local observers, the “dangerous game” being played by Ali Darrassa seems to have been prepared several weeks ago by invisible hands, as the current happenings are coming just one and a half months to the December 27, 2020, general elections and at a time when all the FPRC generals based in Vakaga, Upper Kotto and Bamingui-Bangoran have been invited to Bangui to take part in the inter-group meeting for peace.

The fear is already being expressed that any peace agreement that may be arrived at during the current Bangui meeting might be put to danger by the warmongering and expansionist tendencies of Ali Darrassa.

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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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