Bambari: UN says troubled CAR town under peacekeepers’ control now
The Central African Republic’s fourth-largest town, which was taken by rebel fighters on Tuesday ahead of next week’s elections, is currently in the hands of United Nations peacekeepers and national security forces.
“The situation in Bambari is under control,” Abdoulaziz Fall, spokesman for the UN peacekeeping mission MINUSCA, said on Wednesday.
“The civilians are starting to return. The armed groups have been pushed back into the bush.”
The attacks came after government accusations that former president Francois Bozize was plotting a coup with armed groups ahead of presidential and legislative elections which will happen this Sunday.
At the CAR’s request, Russia and Rwanda sent “hundreds” of military personnel in support of the troubled country, the government announced, an account confirmed by those countries.
Bambari is located some 380 kilometres (240 miles) northeast of Bangui.
Members of an armed group called Unity for Peace in Central Africa (UPC) overran this town on Tuesday after a two-hour war with MINUSCA, according to local sources.
On Tuesday, the town’s mayor stated that civilians were not attacked but the police station, gendarmerie and some houses were ransacked.
The CAR is unfortunately one of the poorest and most unstable countries in the world, experiencing only rare moments of peace ever since it became independent from France back in 1960.
Bozize came to power in a coup back in 2003 before he, himself, was overthrown in 2013, in a conflict that mainly mirrored the CAR’s sectarian divisions.
He has been barred from contesting the elections by the country’s top court since he is the target of a 2014 arrest warrant for alleged murder and torture and is currently under UN sanctions.
His absence has left the incumbent, Faustin-Archange Touadera, who is 63 years old, as the clear frontrunner in the 17-strong field of presidential candidates.
But Touadera’s government remains somewhat weak and the armed forces are scarcely equipped and trained and remain heavily reliant on MINUSCA.
In spite of a peace deal between the government and armed groups in February 2019, the country remains racked by brutal violence.
Thousands of people have died in the last seven years, and almost a quarter of the population of 4.7 million have had to flee their homes.