BANGUI, Central African Republic
Dec 27(AFP)

More regional troops are being sent to secure the capital of the Central African Republic ahead of a rebel advance, with France saying it has no plan to intervene in its former colony’s conflict.

“Bangui is fully secured by the troops” of
the FOMAC central African military force,
its commander, General Jean-Felix Akaga, said on national radio on
Thursday. “Others will arrive to help reinforce this mission of securing Bangui,” he added. The comments came as the UN said it was pulling out non-essential staff from the country where a rebel coalition called Seleka has seized four major regional capitals in less than a month.

The US is also urging its nationals to
leave. French President Francois Hollande said its troops in the country would not be interfering in the conflict, a day after hundreds of protesters at the French embassy in Bangui demanded Paris do more to stem the rebels’ momentum.

“If we are present, it is not to protect a
regime, it is to protect our nationals and
our interests, and in no way to intervene
in the internal affairs of a country,in this
case Central Africa,” he said. “Those days are gone,” he added. France has about 250 soldiers based at Bangui airport providing technical support to a peacekeeping mission run by the central African bloc ECCAS, according to the defence ministry in Paris.

Since the end of colonisation in the
1960s, French troops in western Africa
have often aided former colonies whose
regimes were on the verge of being
toppled. The government in Bangui on Wednesday urged France to help facilitate a dialogue with the rebels, while alluding to the French military presence. “The Central African Republic has not lost sight of France’s important contribution in the restructuring of our defence and security forces, because it has often sent military advisers to work with the Central African military and they have always played a role,” said a statement from the minister of territorial administration Josue Binoua.

The rebels began their push in early
December, charging that President
Francois Bozize and his government
haven’t abided by the terms of peace
deals signed between 2007-2011. As the ill-equipped and underpaid Central African army proved little challenge to the insurgents, Bozize asked for assistance from neighbouring Chad,
which helped him during rebellions in the north in 2010. With the government now largely restricted to Bangui, the Chadian troops are the only real obstacle to the rebels who are now about 300 kilometres away.

The United Nations on Wednesday
ordered more than 200 non-essential
staff and families of other workers to
leave the Central African Republic
because of the rebel offensive. The UN has a major political mission in the Central African Republic seeking to help the government overcome more than a decade of strife. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned armed attacks on several towns by the rebels.

Washington expressed “deep concern”
and warned all Americans to leave the
country “until the security situation
improved”. Nassour Ouaidou, the head of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), told AFP the body was trying to broker a truce.

The Central African Republic is a mineral-rich, landlocked country with less than
five million residents. It ranks 179 out of
187 countries on the UN’s latest
development index and has seen
frequent coups and mutinies. Bozize seized power in a coup in 2003.


About beegeagle

BEEG EAGLE -perspectives of an opinionated Nigerian male with a keen interest in Geopolitics, Defence and Strategic Studies
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  1. peccavi says:

    Shuo? When this one start?

  2. johnbest1 says:

    I wounder oh,Oga peccavi,this is the first i’ve heard of such a conflict,

  3. beegeagle says:

    Well, this latest onslaught commenced December 10.

    Anyway, I think that with a direct overland border, Chad should be able to support the sitting government. The Chadians are able to pool about sixty T55 tanks, eighty Belgian-upgraded Panhard AML 90s, twenty EE-9 Cascavel AFVs and about eighty 73mm gun-armed BMP-1 IFVs. That in addition to about six units each of Mi-24s and Su-25 Frogfoot. Formidable firepower by any African standards.

    The Chadians also have good experience in fighting off such onslaughts, having beaten back a 200+ vehicle convoy of technicals and fighters launched into Ndjamena by Khartoum a few years ago.

    This is an ECCAS project, so we need to stay out of it. Angola are an ECCAS member state as well and it would be a good idea for them to station some Mi-17s and C130-type Antonov planes at Ndjamena. They need to bear in mind that the CAR is a pretty vast place, comparable in size to Afghanistan or Ukraine(France+Holland+Belgium). They would need that for resupply missions in the theatre, same reason why Nigeria are almost certainly upgrading and resuscitating three more C130 Hercules for Mali operations. Goodluck to our Central African neighbours.

    Now methinks Nigeria need to keep an eye on our borders. We posted a commentary here in 2010 which focussed on informal trade with the CAR. This is chiefly centred around traders and trucks coming into Mubi and Maiduguri in our far Northeast. There is a visible presence of CAR-bound trucks at Belel and Banki border posts in Nigeria.

    Indeed, our most distant NE borders lie within a 300 mile radius of the CAR while Nigeria, CAR, Chad, Niger and Cameroon belong to the Lake Chad Basin Commission.

    If a rebel-held zone emerges in the CAR now that BH are recruiting in Cameroon, it is a safe bet that Mali and the CAR would become safe havens for BH while Niger and Cameroon would be rear bases.

    We only need to see how the LRA of Uganda have penetrated the CAR and are using it as a safe haven. Our borders in parts of NE Nigeria are just as close to the CAR as Uganda are to the country in terms of proximity. Arms trafficking from the CAR could become a more serious threat from now on.

    We need to keep an eye on our borders is all. Latest reports indicate that the rebels have halted their march towards Bangui, the capital. If the member-states of the Lake Chad Basin Commission decide to join ECCAS in brokering a peace deal, that is as far as we should get involved in this.


  4. beegeagle says:

    One example of smuggling activities involving CAR nationals..not such a distant reality depending on where in Nigeria you are.

    At borderposts in the Far Northeast such as Gamboru-Ngala, Belel and Banki (in particular) trucks coming from and heading to Libya, Sudan and the CAR are the stuff of everyday reality, never mind those going to Cameroon and Chad, some of which do not even come in to buy goods but merely drive in to fill their diesel tanks because our diesel prices are so much cheaper.

    Expectedly, it is an entirely different world out there in those remote parts with Gamboru-Ngala entailing a 1,815km road trip direct from the ports of Lagos. For a part of Nigeria which is as far removed from Lagos as is Monrovia(Liberia), it is not surprising that their own interactions are chiefly with Central African nations and Sudan. In cities such as Maiduguri, Yola and Mubi, traders from these places are readily visible.Anyway, there you have the security implications entailed.

    At the opposite end of the country around the river port town of Yelwa in Kebbi State – near the borders with Niger and Benin, there is DIRECT river traffic along the Niger between Gao in rebel-held Mali and that remote corner of NW Nigeria. Believe it or not – AZAWAD.

    Traders from Burkina Faso, Niger, Benin and Mali patronise this thriving market town heavily. In that part of Nigeria(Kamba border post elsewhere in Kebbi), Burkina Faso territory is just as close to us as Lome(Togo) is to Lagos – less than 200 kilometres!

    Now,given the situation in northern Mali and the known synergies which exist between Nigerian and Malian terrorists, it is also of the utmost importance that our security personnel keep tabs on river traffic into Yelwa, lest we have a river-borne invasion of terrorists or the trafficking of illicit materiel from Gao in NE Mali into Yelwa in NW Nigeria. These are very real risks which we know and have seen. Thank God for having traversed the length and breadth of this country.

    Well, there goes our heads up.

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