BANGUI: On Monday, the Central African Republic said Russia and Rwanda had sent in hundreds of troops after a suspected coup attempt ahead of the upcoming elections.
On Saturday, the CAR administration, one of the poorest and most unpredictable countries in the world, accused former President Francois Bozize of encouraging a potential coup by three militias.
After announcing an alliance, the government said, the armed groups on Friday began advancing on the capital Bangui along main highways. On Sunday, the UN MINUSCA peacekeeping force declared that the rebels had been halted or driven back and that the situation was “under control.”
“Under a bilateral cooperation agreement, Russia has sent several hundred soldiers and heavy weapons,” said government spokesman Ange Maxime Kazagui.
Several hundred men who are on the field who have begun fighting have also been sent by the Rwandans. Rwanda announced that its troops were deploying, but offered no estimates.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame said the militant groups tried to “disrupt the elections” and Rwanda “also learned that some of them wanted to target our own forces in Central Africa because our forces there were uncompromising.”
Kagame warned that the new Rwandan soldiers would not be bound by UN interaction law. His nation is a significant contributor to MINUSCA’s 11,500-strong unit.
Its contingent is responsible, in particular, for the protection of President Faustin-Archange Touadera of the CAR and the presidential palace.
“However, Kagame said, the new deployment would operate specifically under a bilateral arrangement with the CAR authorising them to contain “any situation aimed at undermining the elections and also preventing Rwandan peacekeepers from being attacked by rebels.
While the Kremlin said the situation in the country was of “serious concern,” there was no immediate confirmation from Moscow about the Russian deployment.
Since 2018, Moscow has led a major diplomatic and financial offensive in the former French colony in exchange for concessions to Russian companies to extract resources, particularly gold and diamonds.
Touadera is also covered by private security guards hired by Russian firms and is active in the preparation of the local armed forces.
Three of the country’s most strong militias launched the attempted coup.
They said they had united into the “Coalition for Patriots for Change,” a new body, and welcomed all other parties to participate.
Vladimir Monteiro, MINUSCA spokesman, said they were driven back or blocked in some areas, and “the situation is under control.” But security and humanitarian sources said that some members of the armed groups were still on the ground around Bossembele, around 150 kilometres from Bangui.
France, Russia, the US, the EU and the World Bank, the so-called G5+ party, urged Bozize and associated militant groups to lay down their weapons and called for the presidential and parliamentary elections on Sunday to go forward.
A source at the French presidency reported that the aim for the polls was “to stick to the date in the coming days” and to prevent fuelling risky confusion.
The source declined to comment on the dispatch of Russian and Rwandan forces, simply noting that MINUSCA “has carried out its mission successfully in the last few days.”