The issue of a rebellion in the Central African Republic (CAR), which I blogged about when the story first surfaced in January, seems to have escalated once more. Al Jazeera is reporting that the Seleka rebel coalition, which seeks to forcible remove President Bozizé, have made it into the capital Bangui and have engaged in battle with the CAR Army. Apparently this is a response to the President having broken the January ceasefire agreement.
Knowing virtually nothing about the country, region or issues involved, I couldn’t begin to speculate on what will happen. Will the rebels successfully topple Bozizé, or will his fighters push them back? Will the CAR’s regional allies step in to save him? What will happen to him if the rebels succeed? Will any of this make any difference to the people of the Republic? For the last question, at least, the cynic in me would say none of this will affect the ‘ordinary person’ at all.
Also, it’s interesting to see varied reactions to this in the news. Checking various websites, both Al Jazeera and Le Monde have this as breaking news on their front page, yet I can’t find a single mention on The Guardian and BBC News only has the story tucked away at the bottom of the ‘World News’ list.
Just a quick update on yesterday’s post to say that it’s now being reported the Central African Republic rebels have stopped their advance towards the capital Bangui, and will participate in peace talks. The country and region are so tied up in webs of alliances, loyalties and history that unless you’re an expert it’s near impossible to predict just what will happen.
For those of us who know nothing about the Central African Republic (CAR), which I would imagine shamefully is most people – myself included – a recent rebellion appears to have sprung up out of nowhere. The rebels took up their weapons not even a month ago on the 10th December 2012, and since have captured most of the north of the country, in some cases without firing a shot. They are within reach of the capital Bangui, some reports saying their positions are less than 100 miles away.The background of the rebellion is complex and I know little of it. It seems to be after a peace deal signed in 2007 after another rebellion – the CAR has faced endless coups and rebellions since gaining independence from France in 1960 – which the rebels claim has not been followed correctly. The rebels’ aims are to depose President Francois Bozizé, who has ruled since 2003. They claim to have no interest in entering government themselves, rather they want to kickstart democratic processes.
Bozizé first appealed for international aid, but his cries have gone mostly unheard. There are around 200 French soldiers in the CAR in a logistical role, helping to train the local army, but President Francois Hollande of France has stated they will not get involved in the conflict. The CAR’s neighbours also seem reluctant to intervene. Desperate, Bozizé took the sensible move of offering to let the rebels in to a unity government. The rebels rejected this offer however, stating that they do not trust his words.
The Central African Republic looks to be on the brink of a crisis.