As chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Africa, US Congress representative Karen Bass (Democrat-California) has the tricky ... task of threading the needle on the proper congressional response to the conflict in Tigray. She also represents part of Los Angeles, home to the nation’s second-largest Ethiopian diaspora community after Washington, DC.
Gilberto Da Piedade Verissimo, president of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), has been meeting with more and more people since the beginning of February. His first meeting was with emissaries of the CPC and François Bozizé near Moundou, Chad, close to the CAR border.
CPC spokesman Abakar Sabone was present at this meeting as well as Jean-Francis Bozizé and Makime Mokom, the son and nephew of former President Bozizé. Mokom – a former minister and police commissioner – was recently dismissed from the police for undermining state security and participating in a rebellion.
Bozizé – still entrenched with his personal armed guard in his region of Bossangoa – had at one time considered attending this meeting, but then opted to send these emissaries instead. In his absence, the participants discussed the “parameters of an inclusive and inter-Central African dialogue.”
Meeting with Noureddine Adam
The date and venue is set for 2 March in Luanda, Angola and agreed on by CPC and Bozizé. Bozizé, who like his nephew has been targeted by the Central African justice system for participating in a rebellion, is still asking for strengthened security measures.
According to our information, the leaders of the seven armed groups that are members of the CPC, including Noureddine Adam and Ali Darass, have told ECCAS that they will travel to Luanda. On 15 February in Khartoum, Sudan, Da Piedade Verissimo met for two hours with Adam, leader of the Front populaire pour la renaissance de la Centrafrique [Popular Front for the Rebirth of Central African Republic] (FPRC), to ensure that he would keep his word.
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ECCAS has set some conditions for the organisation of the dialogue, which will be hosted by Angolan President João Lourenço. The first is to loosen the noose put in place by the CPC around the Central African capital. ECCAS has also demanded the opening of a trade corridor, which the CPC would undertake to develop, between Douala (in Cameroon) and Bangui.
According to a source within the armed groups, they have accepted the first condition and refused the second. However, they have agreed to at least allow the humanitarian vehicles of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the World Food Programme (WFP) to circulate between Douala and Bangui. The CPC – which remains on a war footing – has in recent days mobilised its troops around Bambari, in the centre of the country, in response to an attempt by the Central African army and its Russian allies to recapture the city.
The armed groups have told ECCAS that if Central African President Faustin-Archange Touadéra (FAT) does not agree to participate in the 2 March dialogue, the CPC will resume its offensive towards Bangui.
For his part, FAT would like to limit the scope of this mediation. He believes that Bozizé has no place there and recalls that a dialogue with the leaders of armed groups had already taken place prior to the Khartoum agreements in February 2019.
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