Potential Hot Spots: Central African Republic In Chaos

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December 16, 2008: Representatives of most political or armed groups in the country have been meeting in the capital since December 8th, for two weeks to negotiations to try and work out a peace deal. So far, so good, and there is some optimism that some kind of useful deal will be agreed to by the end of the negotiations on the 20th. But no final and complete deal is expected. There are simply too many groups with too many conflicting goals.

"Spillover warfare" from Sudan and Chad continues to plague the Central African Republic (CAR). The government claims that the Popular Army for the Restoration of the Republic and Democracy (APRD), which has bases in the country's northern areas near Chad, intends to topple President Francois Bozize, and is responsible for many attacks on towns and villages along the Chad-CAR border. The APRD, which had agreed to a ceasefire deal in June 2008, denied the accusation. The APRD and the government have been at odds over "the amnesty agreement" that was supposed to solidify the ceasefire and become the global peace accord" (yes, that's the name the government used to describe the initial deal). The ceasefire was supposed to give the CAR rebels political and criminal amnesty-- of some type. Negotiations on the details broke down in August 2008.

The CAR-Chad-Sudan border region is anarchic, and many different rebel organizations use it as a "transit zone" for moving supplies and personnel. The region is definitely an area of "overlapping warfare" and uncontrolled crime. Civilians in the area have said for at least the last two years that bandit groups are their biggest threat-- the CAR government doesn't have the police forces or military forces to bring the thieves to heel, much less the well-financed rebels. CAR military also attacks civilians.

Another rebel group, led by a supporter of former president Ange-Felix Patasse, is also challenging the Bozize regime. The Democratic Front for the Central African People (FDPC) has forces operating in the northern CAR. The Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR) also operates in the northern area. The truth is, all three rebel groups have their own agendas. At the moment they are big threats to poor tribal people in northern Chad, but aren't in position to topple the government.

Several times a week there are gun battles and skirmishes between these various armed groups.

November 11, 2008: Rebels operating along the Chad-CAR border near the town of Sido ambushed a military patrol and killed at least 14 CAR soldiers. The Office of the United Nations in the CAR (BONUCA) condemned the attack and urged the government and rebel groups to commit themselves to implementing the June 2008 ceasefire agreement.

 

 

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