CAR: Did the rebellion strike the army and Wagner from Chad?

By Mathieu Olivier
Posted on Wednesday, 30 November 2022 13:56

Central African Armed Forces recruits train for a tactical manoeuvre in camouflage gear in Bouar, some 600km northwest of Bangui, on 5 August 2019. © FLORENT VERGNES / AFP

Ever since the positions of the Central African army and its Russian allies from Wagner were hit in Bossangoa on 28 November, tensions have been rising in Bangui. Behind the scenes, the government claims to have evidence that the Coalition des Patriotes pour le Changement (CPC), which is said to be using rear bases in Chad, is preparing an offensive.

Did the Central African rebellion plan an attack on Bossangoa, a large town in the northwestern part of the country? According to our sources, this claim has been circulating within the government’s ranks since the 28 November air attack that targeted the base occupied by the Central African armed forces and their Russian allies in the Ouham prefecture.

Shortly before 3am on Monday, a plane dropped explosives on the former factory of the Société Centrafricaine de Développement Agricole (Socada), where local soldiers and Wagner’s mercenaries are now stationed. The possibility that there was an attack involving one or more armed drones has also been raised. Although no human casualties were reported, there was material damage.

Curious audio messages

The authorities first issued a statement condemning the attack and blamed it on an “aircraft” which, “after committing these crimes”, “headed north […] before crossing our borders”. In other words, according to a source close to the government, this aggression is linked to Chad.

This country has indeed been singled out several times in recent months. This on the grounds that it used to serve – occasionally – as a rear base for part of the Coalition des Patriotes pour le Changement (CPC). François Bozizé – who lives in exile, with Bangui’s agreement, in N’Djamena – is still the CPC’s official coordinator.

After the attack in Bossangoa, the Central African authorities unearthed several pieces of evidence, which have not yet been made public, that suggest the CPC may have been responsible for the incident. These include a series of images and at least two audio recordings – of which we have obtained a copy – incriminate Kévin Bozizé, one of the former president’s sons.

… and Bozizé’s shadow?

In these two audio messages that were recorded in the Sango language and taken from a telephone application, the main caller (who is believed to be based in Bangui) talks about his relationship with Bozizé. The latter, the recorded man says, had recently received substantial funding and was determined to “strike hard”, “in the coming days”, “in two or three places”.

Bozizé, the message says, would be present “at the border” and would insist, via an intermediary, that several attacks take place in a coordinated manner, particularly in Bangui. His intermediary in the Central African capital would then have tried to delay, saying that the support of a “fifth column” would need to be secured before acting.

Are these recordings, as the authorities seem to think, proof that the CPC planned a series of coordinated actions, beginning with the Bossangoa air strike? Based on this hypothesis, the target of the 28 November plane was the military base’s arms depot, the destruction of which triggered a ground attack by CPC elements a few hours later.

According to our sources, the Central African and Chadian governments had been in contact in recent months and were examining the possibility of the CPC using Southern Chad as a logistical base. On 29 November, a Chadian government source told us that N’Djamena would help investigate the events that took place in Bossangoa.

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