Central African Republic rebels advance

Rebels in the Central African Republic Dec. 23 seized the key city of Bambari—the country’s third largest—as part of their new offensive. The rebels—known as the Seleka coalition—have seized several towns north of the capital in recent weeks, charging that President Francois Bozize has failed to uphold a 2007 peace deal. The Libreville Comprehensive Peace Agreement, signed with former rebel groups, called for the release of prisoners and compensation to ex-combatants. The renewed insurgents also oppose plans by Bozize to alter the constitution to seek a third term, according to a statement signed by Seleka secretary general Justin Mambissi Matar.

The Seleka coalition, launched in August, is made up of breakaway factions from three former armed groups: Nureldine Adam’s Wa Kodro Salute Patriotic Convention (CPSK), Dhaffane Mohamed Moussa’s Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (CPJP) and Michel Djotodja’s Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR). The rebels demand that President Bozize, who gained power in 2003 through a coup and subsequently won elections in 2005 and 2011, honor the 2007 agreement and open an investigation into the disappearance of former CPJP leader Charles Massi.

Bozize has called in troops from neighboring Chad to back up government forces. An unknown number of Chadian troops are positioned at Sibut, the last remaining significant town between Bambari and the capital Bangui. Zones already under rebel control are rich in diamonds and gold. There are also significant iron ore reserves near Bambari but a planned mine is not yet operational. (The Independent, Bloomberg, Digital Journal, Dec. 24; BBC NewsAl Jazeera, Dec. 23


  1. Anti-French protests in Central African Republic
    Hundreds of protesters threw stones and tore down the French flag at the French embassy in Bangui. The report on Radio France International portrays the protesters as angry at France for not intervening to halt the rebel advance, despite their troop presence in the CAR. BBC News tells us France has some 220 troops in the country, while Chad has sent 150 soldiers to the CAR.

  2. Central African Republic back from brink
    Agreements were reached Jan. 11 to end the rebellion in the Central African Republic. The rebel coalition known as SĂ©lĂ©ka, mostly made up of forces from the restive and sparsely populated Muslim north. Government forces, along with regional allies in the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), have secured a buffer zone north of the capital, Bangui, and peace talks are set to open in the Gabonese capital of Libreville. (UN News Service via AllAfrica, Jan. 11; Global Dispatches, Jan. 9)

  3. Central African Republic back to brink

    According to conflicted reports, Seleka rebels have entered the outskirts of the capital, Bangui, and are advancing amid ongoing clashes. France, with 250 troops in the CAR, has sent in another 150 to secure the capital's airport. South Africa has sent some 400 military "advisers." Rebels resumed their war against President Francois Bozize last week, citing his failure to uphold (Reuters, NYT, March 23)

  4. Central African Republic: rebels take capital
    Seleka rebels apparently seized power in Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic, March 24, sending President Francois Bozize into exile in the DRC. “With the taking of Bangui and the departure of Bozize, the main objective of our struggle has been realised,” a Seleka rebel spokesman said. “Central Africans must meet around a table to decide the path for their common future.” Bozize came to power in a coup in 2003. The BBC refers to the power transfer as a “coup,” and emphasizes French President Francois Hollande’s appeals for “calm.” Reuters reports that South African troops were involved in the fighting, and suffered casualties.