No end in sight for conflict in the Central African Republic Featured

THE respective governments have confirmed the involvement of mercenaries from Chad and Sudan in the Central African Republic (CAR) conflict.

Recently, the CAR government published a press release on Facebook about the diplomatic relations between the Bangui and N’Djamena.

The CAR government said the participation of Chadian mercenaries did not indicate an attempt by the Chadian government to interfere in CAR politics.

François Bozizé leads the militants. He was president of the CAR from 2003 to 2013. Bozizé is a central figure in the conflict in his country. Rebel groups opposed to his disqualification from the elections have intensified their insurgency.

On the eve of elections, the incumbent President of the CAR, Faustin-Archange Touadéra, accused Bozizé of intending to end the democratic process and destabilize state institutions, which should have serious consequences for the CAR and the sub-region.

To stabilise the situation, Chad and other countries in the region must assist Touadéra in his fight against militants.

They must take control of the borders and ensure that the citizens of their countries do not render any assistance to Bozizé and the criminals who have joined him.

On December 27, CAR was full of hopes for better times ahead as citizens went to the polls to cast ballots for the next president and legislature.

However, the announcement of President Faustin-Archange Touadéra’s preliminary victory – he was reelected for a second mandate with 53,9 percent of the vote – did not bring an end to the violence that had gripped the country shortly before the elections.

The fact that CAR has so far faced countless attacks from armed groups in its major cities, including the capital of Bangui, prevents its citizens from breathing a sigh of relief that the tumultuous years are over.

The same is true for the international community which feels deeply concerned at the prospect of peace and stability within the country’s borders.

In a January 5 joint statement, senior officials from the United Nations (UN) and regional organisations cautioned against disinformation and incitement to violence and hatred.

They added that it would be “up to the Constitutional Court of the Central African Republic to proclaim the final results and to all political actors to respect the decisions of the Court.”

Despite the legal confirmation of Touadéra’s electoral win on January 18, there is still no light at the end of the tunnel.

In a blatant disregard of the Constitutional Court’s decision to certify the current president’s victory and of the international community’s position, the rebels took part in a push to encircle the capital and overthrow the legitimate government.

This invited a military response from the CAR army, reinforced by Rwandan and Russian troops, seeking to help the embattled nation to stabilize the situation.

Specifically, the allied forces conducted an operation to clean up the base of the militants near the village of Bondokpo, which was followed by the defeat of the armed group.

At the same time, some elements fled to the north, leaving their weapons, vehicles and personal belongings.

What was revealed was the presence of external forces, Chadian mercenaries in particular.

The harsh reality is that most conflicts on the African continent have had a spillover effect on the troubled nation’s neighbors, with the case of CAR being no exception to the rule.

Nevertheless, deliberate attempts by outside groups or powers to disrupt peace and subject people to violence and misery are completely unacceptable, if not heinous.

According to local military reports, certain countries, primarily Chad, are a hotbed of militants who constantly infiltrate CAR’s borders and commit numerous acts of violence.

It seems that Chad has turned a blind eye to Touadéra’s proposal relating to the closure of borders between the two countries to stop the illegal flows of militiamen and weapons.

This would be foolhardy of Chad’s leadership, which infamously backs Bozizé, to deny its involvement in the country’s affairs.

In this context, it is necessary either to stop the intervention or to pressurize the militants into backing down to avoid further bloodshed and suffering.

Another country, Sudan, whose mercenaries have also been recently detected in the conflict zone, has paid heed to the request from CAR’s government.

Khartoum is considering blocking the road to Amdafok, a border town, to check the penetration of irregular groupings, as it is wary of the impact of the further escalation of the conflict on economy and security at home and abroad.

Amid such developments, it is becoming clear that all the parties to the conflict should agree to sit at the negotiating table, as is advised by the international community.

Apart from this, foreign mercenaries and military personnel who have joined the ranks of those who oppose the legitimately elected government are to be brought to justice, as any illegal interference in internal affairs is at odds with international law and codes of conduct followed by civilized states.

Sibanda Mthulisi, special correspondent of CAJ News in the CAR



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