June 17, 2024


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Regional summit on CAR situation postponed

A second regional mini-Summit earlier set to be held in Angola’s capital Luanda to discuss the political and security situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) has been postponed, sources have told The New Times.

The new date when it will be held is yet to be announced.

The initial meeting on CAR under the ambit of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) was convened by the President of Angola, João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço, in his capacity as Chairperson of the regional body, on January 29.

A second summit had earlier been set to be held after 10 days in Luanda.

During the first summit, the leaders had made a set of resolutions including; urging rebels in CAR to observe a unilateral and immediate ceasefire, retreat from areas near the capital Bangui, and to disengage immediately from the Douala (Cameroon)-Bangui corridor in order to allow free circulation of people and goods.

Humanitarian convoy arrives in Bangui

News about the second meeting’s postponement comes after, on Monday, February 8, a humanitarian convoy of 14 trucks from Cameroon arrived in Bangui.

Since last month’s attacks on road transport on the Beloko-Bangui axis – about 583 kilometres north-west of Bangui – this key road linking the capital to Cameroon was impassable due to rebel activity.

It is not yet clear whether the rebels heeded the regional leaders’ call to “disengage immediately” from the Douala-Bangui corridor since it took a UN peacekeepers’ road and air escort to enable the delivery of humanitarian aid from the Beloko border post to Bangui.

Mid-January, UN peacekeepers and government forces repulsed a rebel attack on the outskirts of the capital; captured five rebels, and killed 37 others. On January 24, the CAR’s army launched an offensive about 90 kilometres from the capital, Bangui, killed 44 rebels, and captured mercenaries from Chad and Sudan.

The January 29 summit affirmed that the security situation in the CAR represents a serious threat to security and stability in the sub-region.

In the meeting, Lourenço was joined by CAR President Faustin-Archange Touadera, President Denis Sassou-Nguesso, of the Republic of the Congo, and Marshall Idriss Déby Itno, President of Chad.

Vincent Biruta, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, represented President Paul Kagame.

The leaders then also noted the worsening security situation as rebels were “being supplied with increasingly sophisticated weapons and other means to carry out offensives against the population” and legitimate authorities of the CAR.

Neighbours Chad and Sudan, are reported to be hideouts of radicals that infiltrate the country and commit acts of violence, adding to atrocities committed by a coalition of armed groups led by former President François Bozizé. The latter tried to forcefully disrupt last December’s presidential poll but he failed.

Bozizé, who faces an international arrest warrant, initiated by the CAR in 2013, now leads the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC), formed by several armed groups last December to disrupt last year’s presidential poll.

The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in CAR (MINUSCA) has lost some peacekeepers rebel attacks and it holds Bozize’s coalition responsible for the consequences of the violence on the civilian population. It has threatened that attacks against peacekeepers can be considered as war crimes and prosecuted.

Rwanda deployed “force protection troops” – trained to conduct special operations – to the country on December 20, 2020, under a bilateral agreement on defence.

By quickly agreeing to help and sending troops to help the CAR’s national army battle rebels, and save lives, Rwanda set a good example that other regional countries should follow, Marie-Noëlle Koyara, the CAR’s Minister of National Defence and Army Reconstruction, said last December. Rwanda is also one of the top troop contributors to MINUSCA.

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