Major group quits Central African Republic rebel bloc
Civilian population has suffered bitterly due to prevalent insecurity, says rebel leader
BANGUI, Central African Republic
A major armed group in the Central African Republic (CAR) on Monday announced it will quit a coalition of rebel outfits formed last December.
Ali Darassa Mahamat, leader of the Union for Peace in the Central African Republic (UPC), said in a statement that his group will “withdraw from the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC).”
The CPC was formed by six rebel groups on Dec. 15, 2020, with the aim to disrupt the country’s elections and oust President Faustin-Archange Touadera.
They launched an offensive to derail the Dec. 27 polls, taking over towns and cities and displacing hundreds in the western half of the country, as well as its central and southern regions.
Last month, the CPC appointed former President Francois Bozize as the coordinator of the rebellion against Touadera.
Darassa said the electoral crisis has created conditions in which “the population has suffered bitterly from the insecurity, the health situation, the famine and the non-humanitarian assistance.”
He reiterated the group’s commitment to the Khartoum peace accord, a commitment signed in February 2019 between the government and 14 armed groups, including the UPC.
The CAR has been grappling with conflict since 2012, with fighting between the mostly Christian anti-Balaka militia and the mainly Muslim Seleka rebel coalition having killed thousands and leaving two out of three civilians dependent on humanitarian aid.
In 2013, armed groups seized the capital Bangui and forced then-President Bozize to flee.
After a brief period of reduced violence in 2015, fighting intensified again at the end of 2016 after elections were held that year.
The situation in the landlocked African country worsened after the rejection of Bozize’s candidacy for the December 2020 presidential election.
Hostilities between a coalition of non-state armed groups and government forces has continued over the past three months, plunging the country into a new cycle of violence.
* Writing by Felix Tih