Former Central African President François Bozizé came out of his silence, calling for the CAR to continue the transition without President Faustin-Archange Touadéra. What is the ex-head of state preparing?
The former president of the Central African Republic, and leader of the rebel group the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC), François Bozizé, issued a statement last week. His first outing in months.
Bozizé denounces "the 'powerist' maneuvers of the Touadéra regime" and calls for a "transition" without the latter, which would be, according to him, "the credible alternative to end the crisis". Surprising words, as Faustin-Archange Touadéra began a new term in December 2020. Especially since the CAR has been relatively stable for several months. The only party accused of causing disorder, both by Bangui and by the United Nations, is currently the rebel movement CPC, of which Bozizé is the leader.
Since his exile in N'Djamena, the capital of Chad, disturbing movements have taken place. Recent events suggest that François Bozizé intends to resume hostilities in the Central African Republic, with the help of the militias.
Between Chad and France, Baba Laddé's arms race
Africa Intelligence reveals the details of a trip to Paris, in May, of the number 2 of Chadian foreign intelligence, the Fulani leader Abdelkader Mahamat, alias Baba Laddé. The latter would have "tried to pass on to French officials a roadmap entitled 'March for the restoration and securing of the Central African administration'". Without success, according to the investigative newspaper. However, Baba Laddé would have accompanied his document with a "shopping list" rich in military equipment: 20 Kalashnikovs, 000 rocket launchers, 2 vehicles, 000 armed drones, as many snipers and 2 balaclavas...
An incredible audacity of the Chadian, of whom it is assumed that the head of the Chadian junta Mahamat Déby "keeps him handy" in order to manage any tension with the Central African Republic. Furthermore, Baba Laddé, accused of war crimes, had been briefly appointed head of intelligence by Déby last October.
At that time, tensions had erupted on the Chadian-Central African border. Chadian soldiers had covered the retreat of 3R rebels – belonging to the CPC. A deadly confrontation ensued between Chadian soldiers on one side, and Wagner paramilitaries and the Central African army on the other. The diplomatic incident was quickly appeased in the corridors of ECCAS.
The fact remains that, since then, Chad has been protecting François Bozizé and Baba Laddé. The latter is also considered the de facto leader of the 3Rs since the death of their leader Sidiki Abass. Baba Laddé, very close to the cause of Bozizé in the Central African Republic, as well as French interests in the region, would also have resumed discussions with the number one enemy of Bangui: Ali Darassa. The leader of the rebel group Union pour la paix en Centrafrique (UPC), also belonging to Bozizé's CPC.
Bozizé's declaration, a threat?
Bangui announced, last year, that Darassa was going to surrender, after discussions with the government. However, it would seem that there was a misunderstanding of… translation. Darassa not speaking French, his translator at the time and current Central African Minister of Livestock, Hassan Bouba, would have rolled him in flour. Bouba argued that Darassa would surrender on the condition that he — Bouba — be appointed to the government. Hassan Bouba thus caused a split within the UPC, which greatly benefited Touadéra and reduced the strength of the rebels.
But now that Ali Darassa and Baba Laddé are once again close, and that the latter shares Chadian exile with Bozizé, are the two men planning to break the ceasefire in the Central African Republic and relaunch hostilities with the help from the 3R and the UPC, armed by France?
Seen from this angle, François Bozizé's declaration looks more than anything like a threat to Bangui. As a reminder, Bozizé had been eliminated from the last presidential election of 2020. On the other hand, he is actively supported by France and Chad. Otherwise, French spy Juan Remy Quignolot, arrested in the Central African Republic, as well as the 4 French soldiers arrested last February, proved to be close to Bozizé. They were part of his escort in 2013, when Bangui fell.
However, if Bozizé resumes fighting in the Central African Republic in the future, it will not be without the agreement of N'Djamena and Paris. But if that were to happen, Mahamat Déby would be in the crosshairs of all the heads of state in the region. France, it would prove that its methods in CAR will not have changed since Bokassa.