Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Central African Republic: Deby in meeting on revolt

The Head of State of the Central African Republic, François Bozizé, from Chad, Idriss Déby Itno, from Gabon, Ali Bongo and from Congo Brazzaville's Denis Sassou Nguesso will participate in an extraordinary summit of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), that will analyze the crisis in the Central African Republic (CAR) with the situation at the Democratic Republic of Congo to be also analyzed.

 A Chadian rebel movement on January 3 denied lending support to rebels in the neighbouring Central African Republic, refuting a claim by that country's government.

"The ANCD (National Alliance for Change and Democracy) formally denies statements by Mr Josue Binoua, a Central African minister, insinuating the presence of Chadian resistance forces alongside the Seleka" rebel coalition, an ANCD statement said.

"Though it considers that the departure of [the Central African Republic's] President [Francois] Bozize would be good for the Central African people, the ANCD never interfered in the Central African conflict," it added.

Binoua, the Central African Republic’s territorial administration minister, on January 2 alleged that the Seleka alliance of three rebel groups, who have swept across much of the country to within 160km of the capital Bangui, consisted mainly of rebels from Chad and from Darfur in western Sudan.

He also charged that rebel leaders were linked to Wahabites, who practice a strict form of Islam.

Binoua said that "residual forces of Mahamat Nouri", a Chadian rebel leader, constituted the bulk of the fighters in the Seleka alliance.

Nouri, a former minister under Chad's President Idriss Deby Itno, went into armed opposition in 2006 and launched a powerful assault on the capital Ndjamena early in 2008, which was repelled after days of heavy fighting at the cost of hundreds of lives.

The Central African Republic's government made its allegations days ahead of peace negotiations that are scheduled to begin next Tuesday in Gabon's capital Libreville, under the aegis of the Economic Community of Central African States (CEEAC).

Bozize's regime has several times charged that the offensive launched from northern Central African Republic on 10 December by the rebels is an act of foreign aggression.

[December 28 '12]It also seems that the rebels  closing in on CAR's capital  have not been looting much - usually a sign that they are well kept and fed.

So where do they find their resources? Outside support for the rebel coalition cannot be ruled out. Neighbouring Chad has been fingered by some observers as a potential rebel supporter. Could Chad's President Idriss Deby want President Bozize replaced, even though Mr Deby helped him take power almost 10 years ago.

Though Chadian troops have been deployed to save Mr Bozize in the past, and they are again stationed outside Bangui as a buffer should rebels advance on the capital, Mr Deby's intentions seem unclear.

Chad's strong man, Mr Deby, has always wanted a close ally to the south. The rebels are an unlikely alliance of splinter factions with different interests and may well split should they reach Bangui. Should that happen, it could plunge CAR into chaos - potentially sucking in Chad.

About 20 vehicles of heavily armed Chad soldiers crossed into CAR on December 18 to help stop the rebel advance taking place only 300km (185 miles) from the capital, Bangui.

The alliance now controls the towns of Ouadda, Sam Ouandja and Ndele, a major route linking the CAR to Sudan, Cameroon and Chad.

On morning of December 18, it also captured the diamond mining town and military base of Bria.

Government troops tried to repel the attack launched at dawn, but were later forced to retreat. Around 15 soldiers are reported to have been killed during the clashes.

"We couldn't stand there doing nothing in front of this rebel advance,"."The president contacted his counterpart in Chad, who immediately agreed to help us put a quick end to this adventure."

[June 10,08]
A three-year deal between Niger and China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) is to focus on development of the Agadem oil block, construction of a refinery with capacity of 20,000 barrels per day near the southern city of Zinder and a 2,000 kilometre pipeline to ship the oil to international markets.Niger's eastern region, where the country's oil reserves are located, has been relatively unaffected by a revolt by Tuareg rebels. This Central African rift basin also contains Chad's oil.

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