Monday, May 12, 2008
Central African Republic is striving to turn the page on decades of
armed violence linked to mutinies, coups and attempted coups. Hundreds
of thousands of civilians remain displaced, many of them unable, or too
afraid, to farm their land. This is an overview of the various armed
groups, government security forces and international military missions
in the country.
L’Armée Populaire pour la restauration de la république et la démocratie – APRD
rebel group active in the northwest, where it attacked the town of
Paoua in January 2006. Led by former army lieutenant Florian Djadder,
it is said to enjoy support from former president Ange-Félix Patassé.
Most APRD members, thought to number between a few hundred and a
thousand, are drawn from Patassé’s presidential guard.
activity in the northwest displaced large numbers of civilians into the
bush and prompted vicious reprisals from government troops, who
targeted villages suspected of supporting the rebels.
long resisted peace overtures from the government, the APRD agreed in
March 2008 to join a national process of political dialogue. In the
same month the group appointed Jean-Jacques Démafouth, who served as
Patassé’s intelligence chief, as its political leader.
In early May, the APRD was reported to be close to signing a peace deal with the government.
Union des forces démocratique pour le rassemblement – UFDR
in the northeast and made up largely of the mainly-Muslim Gula ethnic
group, it is operationally led by Damane Zacharia, also known as Capt
Yao. Its ranks include men who helped President François Bozizé
overthrow Patassé in 2003 but subsequently felt disgruntled with the
lack of recompense. The group’s leadership said it was fighting to
reverse the region’s chronic marginalisation.
In October 2006 the UFDR overran the town of Birao only to be repelled several days later with the help of French paratroopers.
under arms, the UFDR demanded Bozizé step down or share power. The
group signed a peace deal with the government in 2007 and is taking
part in a process of national dialogue.
The Front démocratique du people centrafricaine
group led by Abdoulaye Miskine, real name Martin Koumtamadji. Since
Miskine signed a peace accord with the government in 2007, this group
has also been involved in the national dialogue process.
Known variously as coupeurs de routes (highwaymen), Zaraguina,
or simply bandits, criminal gangs who kill, kidnap for ransom, loot and
set fire to homes now pose the greatest threat to civilians in the
Their attacks have prompted tens of thousands of people
to flee their villages for a precarious life in the bush; have hindered
access to fields and markets, reduced imports along key trade routes,
especially from Cameroon, and delayed the return of CAR refugees living
in neighbouring Chad.
Forces Armées Centrafricaine - FACA
national army, numbering some 5,000 men, only about half of whom are
thought to be on active duty at any one time. International human
rights groups have accused FACA of burning hundreds of villages during
their operations against rebel groups, although their record improved
from mid-2007. As well as being undermanned, the army is
under-resourced, poorly trained and under-armed, but it is set to
undergo major restructuring under a broad reform of the security
special service in charge of presidential security contains some police
and gendarmerie personnel, but most are drawn from FACA. The
presidential guard was singled out by human rights groups for its
brutality, although more recent reports suggest it has improved its
record and limited its presence largely to the capital. Training and
equipment for those in the presidential guard is significantly better
that for those in FACA.
European Force (EUFOR) and the UN Mission in CAR and Chad (MINURCAT)
is a European Union force authorised by the UN Security Council to
operate in both eastern Chad and northeastern CAR, where it has a
mandate to protect civilians, facilitate humanitarian assistance and
protect UN personnel. It is expected to number 3,700 troops when it
reaches full strength.
is a UN force whose role is training police and improving judicial
infrastructure. It is made up of 350 police and military personnel.
The two forces work hand-in-hand and, in CAR, are deployed in the northeastern town of Birao.
CEMAC Multinational Force - FOMUC
by the Economic and Monetary Union of Central Africa (CEMAC) in 2002 to
support the regime of then president Ange-Félix Patassé, it is made up
of 380 troops from the Republic of Congo, Gabon and Chad. Funded by the
European Commission and France, FOMUC has bases in several parts of the
country and patrols main roads. As well as providing security, FOMUC’s
role includes helping to restructure the national army to tackle
Source: IRIN NEWS http://irinnews.org