In Central African Republic, presidential guard opens fire on convoy of peacekeepers

Ten unarmed Egyptian peacekeepers from the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic (Minusca) were injured, Monday 1is November, by the presidential guard, who opened fire on their bus in Bangui, deplored Tuesday the United Nations (UN), which condemns “A deliberate and unspeakable attack”.

The services of the president, Faustin-Archange Touadéra, in return accused the Egyptian soldiers of having taken photos of the residence of the head of state – which is prohibited – and of refusing to stop their vehicle. 12-year-old girl hit by minibus and killed “In their flight”, according to the presidency.

“Elements of the Egyptian formed police unit”, who were traveling in a bus, “Came under heavy fire from the presidential guard without any prior warning or response, even though they were unarmed”, assured the UN in a statement. Two of them were seriously injured.

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12,000 peacekeepers in the country

Minusca soldiers on patrol on the road to Damara (Central African Republic), in January 2021.

Classified as the second least developed country in the world by the UN, the Central African Republic was plunged into a bloody civil war after a coup d’état in 2013. This conflict continues but has declined considerably in the past three years, even if whole swathes of territories continue to escape central power.

La Minusca, deployed in 2014 and whose mandate expires on November 15, has nearly 12,000 soldiers and is one of the most costly UN peacekeeping operations, with an annual budget exceeding one billion dollars. .

The Egyptians had arrived at Bangui Airport as part of the periodic troop rotation. They were heading to their base in clearly marked buses. “With the initials UN”, according to Vladimir Monteiro, spokesperson for Minusca.

Three of the four buses of this contingent entered the Egyptian base 500 meters from the residence of Mr. Touadéra, assured Agence France-Presse (AFP) Albert Yaloké Mokpeme, spokesperson for the presidency. “But the fourth continues to go up to the level of the residence of the Head of State”, according to him. The presidential guard their “Gestures to turn around”, which they do, but one of the passengers “Takes out his camera and takes pictures of the residence of the Head of State, which is strictly forbidden”, added the spokesperson.

Repeated “hostile incidents”

“After the refusal to comply, the guard fired warning shots and it turns out that these shots were wounded”, continued Mr. Mokpeme, accusing the driver of the vehicle of having “Fatally struck a 12 year old girl (…) in their flight “. Leaving the area after the shootings the bus “Hit a woman who lost her life”, announced for its part the Minusca.

“The press release [de la Minusca] finally speaks of an “attack” of the presidential guard, of “shooting without warning”, (…) I am unpleasantly surprised. What does Minusca play? “, protested Mr. Mokpeme.

In mid-October, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres denounced “Hostile incidents” targeting peacekeepers, and involving “Defense and security forces deployed bilaterally”, which continued at “An unacceptable level”. Mr. Guterres had complained to Bangui “Concrete measures” to put an end to these acts “Likely to constitute war crimes”.

Seven attacks targeting members of Minusca and 18 cases of road harassment by the national security forces were notably recorded by the UN between the 1is June and 1is October.

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Mr. Touadéra decreed on October 15 a “unilateral cease-fire” of his army and his allies – Russian paramilitaries in particular – in their war against the rebels to promote the imminent opening of a national dialogue.

In December 2020, part of the armed groups which then occupied more than two-thirds of the country launched an offensive to prevent the re-election of Mr. Touadéra. The latter had appealed to Moscow and Kigali, who had dispatched hundreds of Russian paramilitaries and Rwandan soldiers to the rescue of a destitute Central African army.

Thanks mainly to the support of the Russians and Rwandans, it has since reconquered all the big cities and pushed the rebels back into the forests. But the latter have been stepping up stealth attacks in recent weeks, far from the capital, Bangui.

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The World with AFP

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In Central African Republic, presidential guard opens fire on convoy of peacekeepers

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