Armed Conflict

06
Apr
13:42 UTC

Central African Republic SITUATION UPDATE: Return, Reclamation, Rehabilitation (3R) announce death of leader Abbas Sidiki on April 2

Executive Summary

  • The death of Return, Reclamation, Rehabilitation (3R) leader Abbas Sidiki, while notable, is unlikely to have a detrimental impact on the group. This is informed by the group’s unabated activity over the past months despite Sidiki’s at least partial incapacitation since he sustained the injuries which he eventually succumbed to in November 2020. 
  • The return of 3R in Ngaoundaye in Ouham-Pende Prefecture on March 14 highlights the unsustainability of military gains against the rebels due to the difficulty in retaining control over the territories with a finite number of troops. Thus, as the pro-government forces’ operations move further eastwards, their territorial gains in the west are likely to become vulnerable to recapture. 
  • The legislative elections transpired without any significant security incidents on March 14. President Faustin-Archange Touadera’s United Herts Movement (MCU) secured a plurality of seats. However, given that their seat share significantly falls short of the majority, the MCU can be expected to lobby support from among the independents over the coming weeks.

Security Incidents in CAR

 

Map # Prefecture Locale Date Brief Description
1 Basse-Kotto Alindao March 22 CPC flee area as security forces seize town
2 Mbomou Bakouma March 16 Rival groups within CPC discharge guns, explosives
3 Hausse-Kotto Bria April 2 FACA post attacked by CPC rebels, three CPC rebels killed, two injured
4 Nana-Grebizi Mbres March 27 Russians take over town without clashes, but later withdraw, allowing CPC to return
5 Ouham-Pende Letele March 10  Clashes between government forces, CPC; CPC sets fire to two bridges
6 Ouham-Pende Ngaoundaye March 14 Renewed 3R presence
7 Nana-Mambere Yongo March 30-31 Resumption of fighting between FACA, rebel forces 
Nana-Mambere Yongo April 1 Overnight clashes between FACA, CPC; rebels eventually leave area, calm restored
8 Nana-Mambere Bouar March 31 CPC rebels repelled by government forces 
9 Ouaka Kouango March 10 FACA, Russian forces take over town from rebels after two hours of fighting
Ouaka Kouango March 12  Additional FACA forces arrive in town to provide more security
10 Ouaka Benga March 12 One local member of National Elections Authority kidnapped by suspected CPC  rebels 
11 Ouham Batangafo March 16 Panic observed ahead of expected FACA, international forces offensive
12 Ouham Nanga-Boguila March 17 FACA regains control of town 

Notable Developments

Legislative elections

  • Partial and second-round legislative elections took place peacefully on March 14. The voter turnout varied between 30 and 90 percent between the constituencies. The election was validated by international and regional observers including the African Union (AU) and the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in CAR (MINUSCA).
  • 70 members of the National Assembly were elected in the March 14 elections, bringing the total number of secured seats to 92 out of a total 140. President Faustin-Archange Touadera’s United Hearts Movement (MCU) won 25 seats, followed by the independents who won 21 seats. 
  • Despite the Coalition of the Democratic Opposition’s (COD2020) intentions to boycott the elections, prominent members of the coalition did participate, including former President Francois Bozize’s Kwa Na Kwa (KNK) party with seven deputies elected and presidential runner-up Anicet Dologuele’s Union for Central African Renewal (URCA) party, with five deputies elected. 
  • Sources from March 25 indicate that the MCU party is attempting to secure alliances with the independents in the National Assembly through bribes. 

 

Other political developments 

  • Reports indicate that Anicet Dologuele, the runner-up in the presidential elections, was banned from leaving the country for medical reasons on March 24. The government spokesperson justified this by citing new measures that require leaders of political parties to obtain authorization from the Ministry of Public Security to travel due to a general investigation into links between political figures and the rebel Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC). 
  • Dologuele was prohibited from leaving the country for a second time, as per reports on April 3. 
  • Reports from March 27 indicate that presidential candidates in the December 2020 elections Martin Ziguele and Karim Meckassoua were prohibited from leaving the country to attend the Nigerien presidential inauguration by the Ministry of Public Security. 
  • President Faustin-Archange Touadera was invested for a second term on March 30 in Bangui. During his address, he claimed that no armed group will be active in the country over the course of his term. 

 

Other Developments

  • Reports citing a statement released by the Return, Reclamation, Rehabilitation (3R) indicate that its leader, Abass Sidiki, died on March 25 of injuries sustained on November 16, 2020. Reports further indicate that the statement was signed by “General Sembe Bobbo”, 3R’s alleged new leader.

Assessments & Forecast

  1. That the 3R rebel group reportedly announced the death of leader Abbas Sidiki attests to its validity especially as false rumors of his death have circulated in the past. While notable, it remains unlikely that Sidiki’s death will have a noticeable detrimental effect on the activities of the rebel group. This assessment is supported by the fact that Sidiki reportedly sustained the injury that he eventually succumbed to in November 2020, suggesting that he was at least somewhat incapacitated since then. However, 3R activities, which included the formation of the CPC, continued unabated, and thus it can be extrapolated that Sidiki’s lieutenants, particularly General Bobbo, assumed increasing responsibility over the past few months. This, coupled with the fact that General Bobbo signed the announcement of Sidiki’s death as the new leader, suggests the improbability of the group being embroiled in a succession struggle in the coming weeks. FORECAST: Thus, 3R activities are likely to continue unhindered and may in fact see an increase as the new leadership seeks to demonstrate continued abilities. Consequently, the security landscape in 3R’s strongholds, Ouham-Pende and Nana-Mambere prefectures, is poised to remain volatile.
  2. Meanwhile, the pro-government security forces expanded their operations eastwards and have been making territorial gains against the CPC, with the CPC reportedly withdrawing before the arrival of the pro-government forces in certain cases. However, the return of 3R rebels in Ngaoundaye, Ouham-Pende Prefecture after the pro-government forces had carried out successful operations against the rebels on March 5 highlights the unsustainability of their territorial gains. While the forces’ victories are notable, the recapture of Ngaoundaye and reports of rebels returning to Mbres, Nana-Grebizi Prefecture after the withdrawal of Russian Private Military Contractors (PMC) suggests that the forces do not have the manpower required to retain their captured territory. In fact, as the operations move further eastwards, FACA and allies are likely to be even more overstretched, leaving their territorial gains vulnerable to rebels. FORECAST: While authorities may attempt to reinforce security presence along critical supply routes and bigger towns, the finite number of forces available indicates that they are unlikely to be able to dispatch adequate reinforcements everywhere, suggesting that rebels will be able to recapture more of their strongholds. 
  3. The partial and second round of the legislative elections transpired largely peacefully despite the threat posed by the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC). However, even though the CPC was not able to disrupt the voting process, barring a few isolated incidents including the abduction of a National Elections Authority official a few days before the polls, it likely had a deleterious effect on the voter turnout, with few constituencies reporting only 30 percent participation. Following the election, 92 parliamentarians have been seated out of a total of 140, with President Faustin-Archange Touadera’s United Hearts Movement (MCU) securing 25 seats. 
  4. FORECAST: The president’s party can be expected to lobby support from among the independents, who have 21 seats so far, in a bid to attain the 71 seats required to form the majority. This claim is borne out by reports suggesting that the MCU is attempting to bribe newly elected deputies to caucus with the party. In addition, the MCU may also attempt to subvert the allegiance of opposition deputies to bolster its ranks over the coming weeks especially as the 48 seats still to be contested carry the potential to unseat the MCU as the single largest party in the National Assembly. Thus, the MCU as well as the opposition parties are likely to engage in political maneuverings to secure as much support as possible in the National Assembly right up until May 2 when the mandate of the current National Assembly ends.  
  5. The other significant political development was Taoudera’s presidential inauguration and the beginning of his second term on March 30. It is notable that leading opposition figures such as Anicet Dologuele, runner-up in the presidential elections, Martin Ziguele, and Karim Meckassoua were prohibited from leaving the country before the inauguration. This highlights the continued monitoring of the opposition amid raised suspicions of their association with the CPC. It is also possible that the government is just using an alleged connection with the CPC as an excuse to curtail the activities of the opposition and that regardless of what the investigation into links between the opposition and the CPC reveals, the government is going to attempt to portray the opposition as having colluded with the CPC. FORECAST: Restrictions on the movement of the opposition leaders, some of whom were re-elected to the National Assembly, is likely to continue over the coming weeks, which the opposition is liable to denounce as government overreach. 

Recommendations

  1. Travel to Bangui should be restricted to essential purposes only given the volatile security situation, while avoiding all travel to Bangui’s PK5 area.
  2. Avoid all travel to outlying areas of CAR given the ongoing armed conflict and high levels of sectarian violence and criminality.
COUNTRY RISK LEVEL Extreme
AFFECTED AREA Nationwide, CAR
INCIDENT RISK LEVEL Extreme
STRENGTH OF SOURCE Credible

Executive Summary

  • The death of Return, Reclamation, Rehabilitation (3R) leader Abbas Sidiki, while notable, is unlikely to have a detrimental impact on the group. This is informed by the group’s unabated activity over the past months despite Sidiki’s at least partial incapacitation since he sustained the injuries which he eventually succumbed to in November 2020. 
  • The return of 3R in Ngaoundaye in Ouham-Pende Prefecture on March 14 highlights the unsustainability of military gains against the rebels due to the difficulty in retaining control over the territories with a finite number of troops. Thus, as the pro-government forces’ operations move further eastwards, their territorial gains in the west are likely to become vulnerable to recapture. 
  • The legislative elections transpired without any significant security incidents on March 14. President Faustin-Archange Touadera’s United Herts Movement (MCU) secured a plurality of seats. However, given that their seat share significantly falls short of the majority, the MCU can be expected to lobby support from among the independents over the coming weeks.

Security Incidents in CAR

 

Map # Prefecture Locale Date Brief Description
1 Basse-Kotto Alindao March 22 CPC flee area as security forces seize town
2 Mbomou Bakouma March 16 Rival groups within CPC discharge guns, explosives
3 Hausse-Kotto Bria April 2 FACA post attacked by CPC rebels, three CPC rebels killed, two injured
4 Nana-Grebizi Mbres March 27 Russians take over town without clashes, but later withdraw, allowing CPC to return
5 Ouham-Pende Letele March 10  Clashes between government forces, CPC; CPC sets fire to two bridges
6 Ouham-Pende Ngaoundaye March 14 Renewed 3R presence
7 Nana-Mambere Yongo March 30-31 Resumption of fighting between FACA, rebel forces 
Nana-Mambere Yongo April 1 Overnight clashes between FACA, CPC; rebels eventually leave area, calm restored
8 Nana-Mambere Bouar March 31 CPC rebels repelled by government forces 
9 Ouaka Kouango March 10 FACA, Russian forces take over town from rebels after two hours of fighting
Ouaka Kouango March 12  Additional FACA forces arrive in town to provide more security
10 Ouaka Benga March 12 One local member of National Elections Authority kidnapped by suspected CPC  rebels 
11 Ouham Batangafo March 16 Panic observed ahead of expected FACA, international forces offensive
12 Ouham Nanga-Boguila March 17 FACA regains control of town 

Notable Developments

Legislative elections

  • Partial and second-round legislative elections took place peacefully on March 14. The voter turnout varied between 30 and 90 percent between the constituencies. The election was validated by international and regional observers including the African Union (AU) and the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in CAR (MINUSCA).
  • 70 members of the National Assembly were elected in the March 14 elections, bringing the total number of secured seats to 92 out of a total 140. President Faustin-Archange Touadera’s United Hearts Movement (MCU) won 25 seats, followed by the independents who won 21 seats. 
  • Despite the Coalition of the Democratic Opposition’s (COD2020) intentions to boycott the elections, prominent members of the coalition did participate, including former President Francois Bozize’s Kwa Na Kwa (KNK) party with seven deputies elected and presidential runner-up Anicet Dologuele’s Union for Central African Renewal (URCA) party, with five deputies elected. 
  • Sources from March 25 indicate that the MCU party is attempting to secure alliances with the independents in the National Assembly through bribes. 

 

Other political developments 

  • Reports indicate that Anicet Dologuele, the runner-up in the presidential elections, was banned from leaving the country for medical reasons on March 24. The government spokesperson justified this by citing new measures that require leaders of political parties to obtain authorization from the Ministry of Public Security to travel due to a general investigation into links between political figures and the rebel Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC). 
  • Dologuele was prohibited from leaving the country for a second time, as per reports on April 3. 
  • Reports from March 27 indicate that presidential candidates in the December 2020 elections Martin Ziguele and Karim Meckassoua were prohibited from leaving the country to attend the Nigerien presidential inauguration by the Ministry of Public Security. 
  • President Faustin-Archange Touadera was invested for a second term on March 30 in Bangui. During his address, he claimed that no armed group will be active in the country over the course of his term. 

 

Other Developments

  • Reports citing a statement released by the Return, Reclamation, Rehabilitation (3R) indicate that its leader, Abass Sidiki, died on March 25 of injuries sustained on November 16, 2020. Reports further indicate that the statement was signed by “General Sembe Bobbo”, 3R’s alleged new leader.

Assessments & Forecast

  1. That the 3R rebel group reportedly announced the death of leader Abbas Sidiki attests to its validity especially as false rumors of his death have circulated in the past. While notable, it remains unlikely that Sidiki’s death will have a noticeable detrimental effect on the activities of the rebel group. This assessment is supported by the fact that Sidiki reportedly sustained the injury that he eventually succumbed to in November 2020, suggesting that he was at least somewhat incapacitated since then. However, 3R activities, which included the formation of the CPC, continued unabated, and thus it can be extrapolated that Sidiki’s lieutenants, particularly General Bobbo, assumed increasing responsibility over the past few months. This, coupled with the fact that General Bobbo signed the announcement of Sidiki’s death as the new leader, suggests the improbability of the group being embroiled in a succession struggle in the coming weeks. FORECAST: Thus, 3R activities are likely to continue unhindered and may in fact see an increase as the new leadership seeks to demonstrate continued abilities. Consequently, the security landscape in 3R’s strongholds, Ouham-Pende and Nana-Mambere prefectures, is poised to remain volatile.
  2. Meanwhile, the pro-government security forces expanded their operations eastwards and have been making territorial gains against the CPC, with the CPC reportedly withdrawing before the arrival of the pro-government forces in certain cases. However, the return of 3R rebels in Ngaoundaye, Ouham-Pende Prefecture after the pro-government forces had carried out successful operations against the rebels on March 5 highlights the unsustainability of their territorial gains. While the forces’ victories are notable, the recapture of Ngaoundaye and reports of rebels returning to Mbres, Nana-Grebizi Prefecture after the withdrawal of Russian Private Military Contractors (PMC) suggests that the forces do not have the manpower required to retain their captured territory. In fact, as the operations move further eastwards, FACA and allies are likely to be even more overstretched, leaving their territorial gains vulnerable to rebels. FORECAST: While authorities may attempt to reinforce security presence along critical supply routes and bigger towns, the finite number of forces available indicates that they are unlikely to be able to dispatch adequate reinforcements everywhere, suggesting that rebels will be able to recapture more of their strongholds. 
  3. The partial and second round of the legislative elections transpired largely peacefully despite the threat posed by the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC). However, even though the CPC was not able to disrupt the voting process, barring a few isolated incidents including the abduction of a National Elections Authority official a few days before the polls, it likely had a deleterious effect on the voter turnout, with few constituencies reporting only 30 percent participation. Following the election, 92 parliamentarians have been seated out of a total of 140, with President Faustin-Archange Touadera’s United Hearts Movement (MCU) securing 25 seats. 
  4. FORECAST: The president’s party can be expected to lobby support from among the independents, who have 21 seats so far, in a bid to attain the 71 seats required to form the majority. This claim is borne out by reports suggesting that the MCU is attempting to bribe newly elected deputies to caucus with the party. In addition, the MCU may also attempt to subvert the allegiance of opposition deputies to bolster its ranks over the coming weeks especially as the 48 seats still to be contested carry the potential to unseat the MCU as the single largest party in the National Assembly. Thus, the MCU as well as the opposition parties are likely to engage in political maneuverings to secure as much support as possible in the National Assembly right up until May 2 when the mandate of the current National Assembly ends.  
  5. The other significant political development was Taoudera’s presidential inauguration and the beginning of his second term on March 30. It is notable that leading opposition figures such as Anicet Dologuele, runner-up in the presidential elections, Martin Ziguele, and Karim Meckassoua were prohibited from leaving the country before the inauguration. This highlights the continued monitoring of the opposition amid raised suspicions of their association with the CPC. It is also possible that the government is just using an alleged connection with the CPC as an excuse to curtail the activities of the opposition and that regardless of what the investigation into links between the opposition and the CPC reveals, the government is going to attempt to portray the opposition as having colluded with the CPC. FORECAST: Restrictions on the movement of the opposition leaders, some of whom were re-elected to the National Assembly, is likely to continue over the coming weeks, which the opposition is liable to denounce as government overreach. 

Recommendations

  1. Travel to Bangui should be restricted to essential purposes only given the volatile security situation, while avoiding all travel to Bangui’s PK5 area.
  2. Avoid all travel to outlying areas of CAR given the ongoing armed conflict and high levels of sectarian violence and criminality.
COUNTRY RISK LEVEL Extreme
AFFECTED AREA Nationwide, CAR
INCIDENT RISK LEVEL Extreme
STRENGTH OF SOURCE Credible