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Angola – CAR : President Lourenço to tackle crisis in the CAR

By Jeune Afrique
Posted on Thursday, 4 February 2021 18:17

Faustin-Archange Touadéra and João Lourenço in Luanda, January 30. © central africa press

As the crisis escalates in the Central Africa Republic, where armed groups are going head-to-head with re-elected President Faustin-Archange Touadéra, Angola is trying to mediate.

The International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) is due to hold another mini-summit on the Central African crisis in a week’s time. This will take place in Luanda, just like the first part which was held on 29 January. In recent weeks, Angola has sought to help resolve the Central African crisis.

According to our information, it is a trio consisting of President João Lourenço, António Téte (the minister of external relations who went to Bangui and then to N’Djamena), and Gilberto Da Piedade Verissimo, the president of the Economic Community of Central African States commission, that is trying to open up a channel of communication between the different actors in Bangui.

Touadéra mistrusts Francophones

CAR President Faustin-Archange Touadéra (FAT) had refused to participate in a mediation led by Francophones. According to our sources, he did not want either Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso, whom he considers too close to his opposition, or Chadian President Idriss Déby Itno, with whom he doesn’t get along, to be involved. The two heads of state are also busy ensuring their probable re-elections.

READ MORE CAR: Peacekeepers regain control of Bangassou from armed rebels

In December however, President Sassou Nguesso – who is still working closely with his Angolan counterpart (the two men saw each other again face to face on 29 January) – excluded François Bozizé, now Touadéra’s opponent, from the Grand Lodge of Congo, of which he was a member. However, FAT’s mistrust has not completely disappeared.

Supported by Russia, the president of the CAR still does not want France to be involved in any dialogue. On the Francophone side, only DRC’s President Félix Tshisekedi could play a role once he takes over the presidency of the African Union in early February. However, the president of the DRC is busy internally as he is trying to build a new majority.

“Angola appears to be naturally the best equipped politically, diplomatically and militarily to help reach a compromise,” said a source very familiar with the preparation involved in mediating that we contacted. Angola – which has troops in the UN mission in the CAR, has a good military and is close to Portugal – maintains good relations with Paris and Moscow and is also on good terms with Washington and Beijing, essential within the UN Security Council.

Bozizé sets his conditions

Links have already been established between Angolan negotiators and Bozizé, one of the potential participants in a dialogue about the CAR. Contacted via Jean-Eudes Teya, the secretary-general of Kwa na Kwa (KNK, his party), the former president has not ruled out participating in discussions. However, he asked that certain conditions be met and that his safety be guaranteed. Accused of inciting rebellion and wanted by the CAR authorities, Bozizé now believes his life is in danger.

However, the former head of state turned opponent remains in contact with the leaders of the Coalition des patriotes pour le changement [Coalition of Patriots for Change] (CPC), including Noureddine Adam and Ali Darassa. The coalition, which Teya is also close to, hopes to impose its presence during possible talks. While some diplomats are reluctant to accept their presence, Presidents Lourenço and Sassou Nguesso believe that the CPC’s participation is indispensable.

READ MORE CAR rebel chief Noureddine Adam: ‘Nothing precludes Bozizé from becoming the CPC’s leader’

The CPC, which brings together the main Central African armed groups, has in recent weeks proposed to Bozizé that he lead the movement at the political level. According to our sources, however, the former head of state has not yet decided to “take the leadership.” Surrounded by a handful of bodyguards and determined to remain in the CAR, the boss of the KNK has decided to “wait and see”, according to one of his colleagues.

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