Sunday, March 26, 2023

CAR ceasefire between rebels, government collapses ahead of Sunday’s elections | News Central African Republic

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The rebel coalition says it is canceling a three-day ceasefire, already rejected by the government, ahead of the tense general elections on Sunday.

A rebel coalition that fought the government of the Central African Republic (CAR) called off a three-day ceasefire ahead of the tense general elections scheduled for Sunday.

The Coalition of Patriots for Change (CCP), which launched an offensive against the government a week ago, said in a statement that it had “decided to break the 72-hour truce it had imposed on itself. and resume its relentless march towards its final goal. “.

In the statement, which was confirmed to AFP news agency as genuine by two of the six coalition groups, the CCP said it made the decision “in the face of” the government’s irresponsible obstinacy. “

The signatories of the ceasefire had “invited the authorities to observe the ceasefire during the same period” and called on President Faustin Archange Touadera to suspend the presidential and legislative elections on Sunday.

But government spokesman Ange-Maxime Kazagui rejected the ceasefire on Thursday, saying it was “a non-event” and that “we haven’t seen these people stop what they’re doing” .

Over the weekend, the government accused Touadera’s predecessor, François Bozize, of plotting a coup with the rebels – an accusation it denies.

On Friday, the rebel coalition said the government had “cavalierly rejected” this “chance for peace.”

“Several attacks followed against positions occupied by the CCP patriots,” the statement said.

The authenticity of the CCP’s statement was confirmed by two armed groups – the 3R and the Popular Front for the Renaissance of Central Africa (FPRC).

General Bobo, the leader of the 3R, told AFP that “now either the government is dispersing us or we are marching on Bangui, which is our final objective”.

The CCP was created on December 19 by armed groups who accuse Touadera, the favorite in Sunday’s elections, of trying to fix the vote. Its components come from rebel groups that together control two-thirds of the country.

MINUSCA forces patrol Bangui in this December 22 photo [File: Alexis Huguet/AFP]

Meanwhile, fighting has resumed in Bakouma, about 250 km (155 miles) east of the capital Bangui, according to Vladimir Monteiro, spokesman for the UN MINUSCA peacekeeping force. .

Armed men had sought to descend the main highways towards Bangui but were arrested, according to MINUSCA.

Catherine Soi of Al Jazeera, who reports from Bangui, said people “have no appetite for any kind of conflict … and want to exercise their right to vote.”

“When you come out of Bangui, in the countryside, people are very afraid. We hear of fighting in various places, of displaced people, ”she added.

The oil-rich CAR has been rife with conflict for years, with clashes between a predominantly Muslim rebel coalition and Christian militias following Bozize’s overthrow in 2013.

A French military intervention coupled with a UN peace mission temporarily stabilized the country with a peace accord signed in 2019, but there are recurring violent outbreaks.

The recent rise in violence has prompted Russia and Rwanda to deploy military consultants and troops to the country.

Paul Melly, Africa Program member at Chatham House, said it would be “very difficult” to wait for the government to stop Sunday’s election.

“The United Nations, MINUSCA and the government have made tremendous efforts to organize to mobilize the electoral process,” he told Al Jazeera from London.

“They registered everyone, they distributed or started to distribute voter cards… a lot of people in Bangui want to go ahead and exercise their right to vote.”


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