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Violence mounted in west and centre, while security situation continued to improve in north east. In west, armed group Return, Reclamation et Rehabilitation (3R) continued to step up attacks against UN mission (MINUSCA) in Nana-Mambéré prefecture. 3R 5 July threatened to render region ‘‘ungovernable’’ if MINUSCA does not withdraw, prompting thousands to flee and several NGOs to put their operations on hold in following days. 3R anti-tank mine 8 July damaged MINUSCA vehicle near Baboua, also Niem-Besson axis, in first explosive device incident in country since 2014; in following days, MINUSCA discovered several IEDs in area. 3R elements 13 July clashed with MINUSCA troops in Gedze village, killing blue helmet and injuring two others. In centre, armed group violence continued; notably, clash between Union for Peace in Central Africa (UPC) and anti-Balaka elements 12 July left three civilians and one UPC member dead in Zangba village, Basse-Koto prefecture. Ethnic Goula armed group Party for the Reunification of the Central African Nation (PRNC) 22 July killed at least two ethnic Sara civilians in Bougnoul Niakania village, Haute-Kotto prefecture; in alleged reprisal, Sara assailants next day killed ethnic Goula in Bornou village; PRNC next day attacked Bornou, leaving at least ten Sara dead and 20 wounded. In north east, first phase of Disarmament, Demobilisation, Rehabilitation and Reintegration program ended 9 July, with 348 demobilised Popular Front for the Central African Renaissance (FPRC) combatants. Suspected PRNC 19 July killed three civilians in Krakoma village, Bamingui-Bangoran prefecture. National Council of Fulani Chiefs 14 July announced its support for President Touadéra’s candidacy in presidential election scheduled for Dec. In following days, opposition accused Touadéra of secretly holding talks with Fulani-dominated armed groups 3R and UPC to secure Fulani votes. Former President Bozizé 25 July said he would run for top office again in Dec. UN Security Council 28 July extended sanctions against CAR, including arms embargo, until 31 July 2021.
Armed groups violence decreased in north east but intensified in west, while attacks on NGOs increased in centre. In north east, attacks by armed groups eased following late May-early June joint operation by UN mission (MINUSCA) and armed forces around Bamingui-Bangoran prefecture’s capital Ndélé and govt 5 June deployment of police forces to support troops in area. Prominent Sudanese Janjaweed militia leader Ali Kushayb, under International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrant for 15 years, reportedly surrendered to CAR authorities in north-eastern Vakaga prefecture’s capital Birao 7 June and was transferred to ICC next day. Violence increased in west after armed group Return, Restitution and Rehabilitation (3R) 5 June suspended participation in Feb 2019 peace agreement. 3R elements 9 June launched several attacks in Nana-Mambéré prefecture, notably against base of special mixed security units – comprising demobilised armed group members and soldiers – near city of Bouar, national army-UN checkpoint in Pougol village, and security forces outside Baoro village, reportedly leaving several injured. 3R leader Sidiki Abbas 11 June denied attacks and accused govt of “orchestrating chaos to justify postponement of [presidential and legislative] elections scheduled for Dec”. After MINUSCA and military 17 June launched joint counter-offensive in Nana-Mambéré prefecture, 3R elements 21 June allegedly ambushed joint MINUSCA and national army convoy near Besson town, killing five soldiers. MINUSCA and 3R reportedly clashed 29-30 June in Koui locality, Ouham-Pendé prefecture, death toll unknown. In centre north, NGOs 25 May-8 June suffered multiple attacks between Batangafo town in Ouham prefecture and Kaga-Bandoro town in Nana-Gribizi prefecture. In centre, anti-Balaka Ayoloma group 3-16 June carried out at least ten attacks on NGOs and UN vehicles on Grimari-Sibut axis in Ouaka and Kemo prefectures. Also in centre, armed group Patriotic Movement for Central Africa 11 June kidnapped several Fulani herders and stole livestock in Kemo prefecture. Constitutional Court 5 June rejected govt’s project to amend Constitution to enable extension of President Touadéra and MPs’ terms in case Dec elections are postponed due to COVID-19.
Clashes between armed groups persisted in north east following flare-up in violence late April, while attacks by armed groups continued in west and increased in south east. In Bamingui-Bangoran prefecture in north east, Runga-led armed group Popular Front for the Central African Renaissance (FPRC) on one hand, and allied forces of ethnic Gula Patriotic Rally for the Renewal of Central Africa (RPRC) and ethnic Kara Movement of Central African Liberators for Justice (MLCJ) on the other, clashed around Ndélé town first week of May, leaving eight dead including civilians; further clashes between FPRC and RPRC outside Ndélé 12 May left four combatants and two civilians dead. In attempt to curb violence and reassert state presence, govt 10 May deployed troops to Ndélé for first time since 2012 alongside reinforcements from UN mission (MINUSCA). Special Criminal Court 8 May opened investigation into allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during clashes in Ndélé 6, 11 March and 29 April, while MINUSCA forces 19 May arrested nine RPRC rebels including former Séléka leader Azor Kalite for alleged role in 29 April violence. In west, armed group Return, Restitution and Rehabilitation (3R) launched attacks in Nana-Mambéré prefecture, occupying town of Baboua 30 April-5 May and reportedly killing civilian in Niem-Yéléwa commune 22 May. President Touadéra 12 May inaugurated deployment of first battalion of special mixed security units (USMS) – stipulated under Feb 2019 peace deal and comprising demobilised armed group members and soldiers – in town of Bouar, also Nana-Mambéré prefecture; Abbas Sidiki, leader of 3R incorporated into USMS forces, reportedly left Bouar next day to protest against Touadéra’s guard and protocol. In Haut-Mbomou prefecture in south east, MINUSCA and govt forces 19-25 May repelled multiple attacks by armed group Union for Peace in the Central African Republic (UPC) around Obo town; at least 20 UPC combatants killed and nine arrested. UPC chief Ali Darassa 28 May denied UPC involvement in fighting in Obo, and accused govt forces of killing civilians.
Renewed fighting broke up in north east after seven armed groups suspended participation in govt and Feb 2019 peace agreement implementation mechanisms. President Touadéra 16 April met Ali Darassa, leader of armed group Union for Peace in the Central African Republic (UPC), and PM Firmin Ngrébada 25 April met Abdoulaye Hissène, leader of armed group Popular Front for the Central African Renaissance (FPRC), in capital Bangui in alleged attempt to explore ways to achieve peace in north east and centre before presidential election scheduled for Dec; however, in joint statement, seven armed groups, including UPC and FPRC, 25 April said they were suspending participation in govt and Feb 2019 peace agreement implementation mechanisms, accusing govt of failing to abide by its commitments. Violence thereafter flared in north east. Armed group Patriotic Rally for the Renewal of Central Africa (RPRC) and allied armed group Movement of Central African Liberators for Justice (MLCJ) 29-30 April clashed with FPRC in Bamingui-Bangoran prefecture’s capital Ndélé, at least 37 reportedly killed, mainly civilians. Earlier in month, ethnic Gula RPRC 6 April attacked ethnic Runga factions of FPRC in Ndélé; death toll unknown, but reportedly low casualties. UN Security Council 20 April imposed sanctions on Martin Koumtamadji (alias Abdoulaye Miskine), leader of armed group Democratic Front of the Central African People, including asset freeze and travel ban, accusing him of recruiting fighters in violation of Feb 2019 peace agreement. In north-western Ouham-Pendé prefecture, angry mob 9 April destroyed base of UN peacekeeping mission (MINUSCA) in Béboura village, injuring two peacekeepers, following death of civilian in road accident involving MINUSCA vehicle. In Bangui, authorities 3 April arrested six individuals including two military officers on suspicion of planning jailbreak of soldiers detained since late March for alleged coup plot. National Assembly President and VP 16 April proposed constitutional amendments to enable extension of President Touadéra and MPs’ terms in case of postponement of Dec election due to COVID-19; political opposition and civil society rejected proposals.
Fighting continued in provinces, especially in north east between armed groups and ethnic communities, reportedly leaving dozens dead. In north east, ethnic Runga faction of Popular Front for the Central African Renaissance (FPRC) clashed with Gula armed group Patriotic Rally for the Renewal of Central Africa (RPRC) in Ndélé town, Bamingui-Bangoran prefecture 2-11 March, fighting reportedly left around 40 dead including at least twenty civilians. Unidentified armed group ambushed UN mission (MINUSCA) near Ndélé 15 March injuring peacekeeper; MINUSCA reportedly killed two assailants. Violence erupted again in area end month following RPRC attack on Runga-majority village near Ndélé 25 March. In Vakaga prefecture also in north east, ethnic Kara armed group Movement of Central African Liberators for Justice (MLCJ) 3 March clashed with ethnic Sara elements of FPRC, one MLCJ fighter killed. Leader of Fulani-dominated armed group Union for Peace in the Central African Republic 18-19 March convened representatives of ex-Seleka armed groups in Bria, Haute-Kotto prefecture in centre-east; participants 19 March signed agreement to prevent fighting in Vakaga prefecture spilling south into neighbouring Haute-Kotto. In north west, anti-balaka combatants 4 March killed three Fulani herders in clashes in Ngatoua village and another Fulani in Gbakaya village, both in Ouham prefecture. In south west, armed group Return, Restitution and Rehabilitation (3R) 4 March killed two civilians. In centre, suspected anti-balaka 15 March killed UN peacekeeper in Ouaka prefecture. In capital Bangui, authorities 28 March arrested twenty former anti-balaka who had been integrated into national armed forces over fears of potential coup.
In north east, deadly clashes between armed groups continued throughout month, until leader of one group 20 Feb unilaterally announced 30-day ceasefire. In far north east in Vakaga prefecture, fighting between ethnic Kara armed group Movement of Central African Liberators for Justice (MLCJ) and ethnic Runga-led rebel group Popular Front for the Central African Renaissance (FPRC) reportedly left at least ten dead near MLCJ-held Birao town 13 Feb. At request of UN mission MINUSCA, French fighter planes mid-Feb flew over Birao to deter FPRC attacks, but FPRC 16 Feb clashed with MLCJ and UN peacekeepers, at least a dozen FPRC and six MLCJ reportedly killed. Hundreds of FPRC combatants and ethnic Runga 16-18 Feb demonstrated near MINUSCA base in Ndélé town, Bamingui-Bangoran prefecture, accusing it of supporting MLCJ. FPRC 4 and 7 Feb attacked ethnic Gula villagers in Mbomou and Haute-Kotto prefectures in east killing five. After meeting with representatives of regional bloc Economic Community of Central African States and African Union in Sudanese capital Khartoum, FPRC leader Noureddine Adam 20 Feb announced 30-day ceasefire, declared willingness to talk with local leaders and representatives of ethnic groups. In west, self-defence group clashed with armed group Return, Restitution and Rehabilitation (3R) 18 Feb, leaving three 3R fighters dead in Nana Mambere prefecture. In centre, MINUSCA operation early Feb forced armed group Union for Peace in Central African Republic out of Alindao. Some 2,000 people 17 Feb demonstrated in front of UN offices in capital Bangui to demand departure of three senior MINUSCA officials over allegations of collusion with armed groups; govt next day declared same officials persona non grata and requested that MINUSCA transfer them out of country. Sixteen opposition parties 11 Feb created Coalition of Democratic Opposition.