Central African Republic Bush War

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Central African Republic Bush War

caption=The Central African Republic
place=Central African Republic
result=Peace agreement
combatant1=UFDR rebels
commander1=Michel Detodia (UFDR,http://allafrica.com/stories/200611130081.html] GAPLChttp://allafrica.com/stories/200611020004.html] )
Abakar Saboune (MLCJ)
Justin Hassane (FDC)
commander2=François Bozizé
casualties3=Civilian casualties:
Hundreds killed, 212,000 displaced [http://hrw.org/reports/2007/car0907/2.htm#_Toc176766508 State of Anarchy: Rebellion and Abuses against Civilians: Executive Summary ] ]
The Central African Republic Bush War [http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900sid/LRON-76KE62?OpenDocument Feature - Bush war leaves Central African villages deserted (Reuters)] began with the rebellion by the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR) rebels, lead by Michel Detodia, after the current President of the Central African Republic, François Bozizé, seized power in 2003. However, the real fighting began in 2004. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/4035239.stm BBC NEWS | Africa | Raid on CAR town 'leaves 20 dead' ] ] The Civil War may be connected to the Darfur conflict in neighbouring Sudan. The CAR government says the rebels are operating from Darfur with the support of the Sudanese authorities. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6136210.stm BBC NEWS | Africa | CAR rebels 'capture second town' ] ] So far, around 10,000 people have been displaced because of the civil unrest.

The UFDR consists of three allies, the Groupe d'action patriotique pour la liberation de Centrafrique (GAPLC), the Mouvement des libérateurs Centrafricains pour la justice (MLCJ), and the Front démocratique Centrafricain (FDC). The group signed a peace agreement with the government in April 2007. [http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2007-04-13-central-africa_N.htm "Central African Republic, rebels sign peace deal"] , Associated Press ("USA Today"), April 13, 2007.]


In November 2004, at least 20 people were killed in a raid on the remote town of Birao in the north-east of the Central African Republic.

On February 11, 2006, a single military unit of CAR killed at least 30 civilians in more than a dozen separate villages located along the Nana-Barya to Bémal road. On March 22, this same unit beheaded a teacher in Bémal, cutting off his head with a knife while he was still alive.

On July 10, 2006, Chadian soldiers in army trucks raided the village of Bétoko, located 20 kilometers south of the Chadian border town of Goré, firing randomly at the population and looting the village after the population had fled. During this raid, the Chadian troops raped five women at Bétoko. [http://hrw.org/reports/2007/car0907/6.htm#_Toc176766539 State of Anarchy: Rebellion and Abuses against Civilians: Rebellion in the Northwest ] ]

On October 29, 2006, a force of around 150 rebels took the town of Birao, which is close to the border with Sudan and Chad. The rebels from the UFDR movement say some government troops joined them, and others were taken prisoner. The CAR government accused Sudan of being behind that attack. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6100316.stm BBC NEWS | Africa | CAR rebels seize town near Chad ] ]

Thousands of people marched into the capital of the CAR, Bangui, on November 8, and pleaded for the government's troops to confront the UFDR.http://allafrica.com/stories/200611100002.html] On November 10, 2006, the rebels claimed to have captured the town of Ouadda-Djallé after a two-week long offensive. A government spokesman confirmed rebel activity but not the town's capture. Twenty members of the government were killed, and only three of the rebels died in this attack. [http://today.reuters.co.uk/news/CrisesArticle.aspx?storyId=L10708333&WTmodLoc=World-R5-Alertnet-4 World Crises | Reuters.co.uk ] ] It was also confirmed that the UFDR had gained access to several armored vehicles, including a plane that landed in Birao earlier to bring supplies.

On November 13, 2006, a third town was seized by the UFDR, Sam-Ouandja, a town in the northern part of the CAR. [http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article18638 SudanTribune article : Central African rebels claim capture of third town ] ] Just three days later, claims stated that a forth town, Ouadda, had been captured by the rebels. When the 20,000 residents of the city heard that the UFDR was going to capture the town, between 5,000 and 10,000 of those people fled mostly to the neighboring cities of Bamabari and Bangui.http://allafrica.com/stories/200611160141.html] On November 14, France, the traditional backer of the CAR government, offered the CAR military assistance in the form of logistics and aerial reconnaissance. France already has a regular 200-soldier contingent in the CAR whose strength is comparable to the CAR's ill-equipped 5,000-soldier army. [ [http://www.afrol.com/articles/22617 "France renders last minute support to Central African Republic"] , "Afrol News", November 14, 2006] On that day, the UFDR announced that they had suspended military activities in favour of negotiations. [http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=136&art_id=qw1163486881436B253 "CAR rebels make fresh call for talk"] , "Independent Online", November 14, 2006]

On November 17, Chad's parliament approved troop deployment to the CAR. [http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2006/11/17/africa/AF_GEN_Chad_Troop_Deployment.php "Chadian parliament votes in favor of troop deployment to Central African Republic"] , November 17, 2006] The CAR government appealed to the United Nations to send troops, [http://today.reuters.com/News/CrisesArticle.aspx?storyId=L17141918 "Central Africa's Bozize asks EU to push for UN troops"] , "Reuters", November 17, 2006] and United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for the attacks in CAR's border with Darfur to end. [http://newsblaze.com/story/20061111091923tsop.nb/newsblaze/TOPSTORY/Top-Stories.html "Annan Urges End to Attacks Near Central African Republic's Border"] , "News Blaze", November 11, 2006] Chad's decision to deploy troops to the CAR came as hopes for deal with Sudan over peacekeeping forces in Darfur proved premature. [http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article18750 "US Rice hopes Sudan will okay Darfur force"] , "Sudan Tribune", November 17, 2006] [ [http://www.kuna.net.kw/home/story.aspx?Language=en&DSNO=923290 "Sudan 'did not' give ok over international force for Darfur - top official"] , "Kuwait News Agency", November 17, 2006]

The UFDR are reportedly planning to take over the city of Bria, though rumours also support an additional attack may occur in Ndele.

In December 2006, Chadian troops in three army trucks attacked Bémal, located next to Bétoko, firing randomly at the population and taking 32 cows from the village, as well as farming implements and sacks of peanuts.

On December 14, Chad announced it had killed two rebel military chiefs, and moved its forces into Sudan. [ [http://www.alertnet.org/db/crisisprofiles/SD_DAR.htm?v=at_a_glance "Darfur conflict"] , Reuters AlertNet] The same day, France admitted having performed air raids against UFDR positions since the beginning of December, employing Mirage F1 fighters and helicopter gunships, and including an attack on the UFDR-controlled town of Birao. French Defence Ministry spokesman said the action was "in line with international calls to stabilise the region". UFDR reports claim that the raids had a devastating effect on civilian population. [ [http://news.independent.co.uk/world/africa/article2076138.ece "France admits air raids on Darfur neighbours"] , The Independent, 15 December 2006] .


On April 13 2007, a peace agreement between the government and the UFDR was signed in Birao. The agreement provides for an amnesty for the UFDR, its recognition as a political party, and the integration of its fighters into the army.


According to the Human Rights Watch (HRW), hundreds of civilians have been killed, more than 10,000 houses burned, and approximately 212,000 persons have fled their homes to live in desperate conditions deep in the bush in northern Central African Republic.

Roads once packed with villagers selling produce and going to market are totally deserted. Only aid workers and rebels still move about. While government forces are still in control of key towns in the north such as Paoua and Bossangoa, the rest of the region -- purportedly under rebel control -- remains unusually calm. [ [http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900sid/LRON-76KE62?OpenDocument News: Central African Republic, Feature - Bush war leaves Central African villages deserted ] ]

Human rights violations and crimes

The vast majority of summary executions and unlawful killings, and almost all village burnings, have been carried out by government forces, often in reprisal for rebel attacks. While the main rebel groups have been responsible for widespread looting and the forced taxation of the civilian population in areas they control—and rebels in the northeast have committed killings, beatings, and rape—their abuses pale in comparison to those of the Central African Armed Forces and the elite Presidential Guard, HRW claims. The CAR security forces have committed serious and widespread abuses against the civilian population, including multiple summary executions and unlawful killings, widespread burning of civilian homes, and the forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of civilians, which have instilled terror in the civilian population.

Abuses suffered by the civilian population in northwestern CAR were not limited to those committed by the APRD rebels and CAR forces, Chadian troops also regularly conducted cross-border raids, looting villages, and committing rape.

On October 26, 2007, during a visit to Brussels, Bozizé publicly acknowledged that government soldiers committed abuses while fighting rebels in the north, but said measures had been taken to punish those responsible. "In every case of rebellion, there are abuses, I cannot deny that, there are abuses."

ee also

*Darfur conflict
*War in Chad (2005–present)
*List of wars 2003–current


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