Region Sends Troops to Rescue Central African Regime
[An Nahar] The prospect of a rebel takeover of the Central African capital Bangui dimmed Tuesday as the regional bloc sent troops to prop up the regime of President Francois Bozize and force peace talks.
With the Seleka rebel coalition threatening to march on the capital, Gabon, Congo-Brazzaville and Cameroon have each pledged 120 troops to join 400 Chadian soldiers already deployed by multinational African peacekeeping force FOMAC to protect the key town of Damara, according to a FOMAC source.
Damara is the last strategic settlement between the rebels and Bangui, after Seleka seized much of the chronically unstable country in a three-week advance to within 160 kilometers (100 miles) of the capital, which sits on the southern border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
...formerly the Congo Free State, Belgian Congo, Zaire, and who knows what else, not to be confused with the Brazzaville Congo or
Republic of Congo, which is much smaller and much more (for Africa) stable. DRC gave the world Patrice Lumumba and Joseph Mobutu, followed by years of tedious civil war. Its principle industry seems to be the production of corpses. With a population of about 74 million it has lots of raw material...
Bangui itself was rocked by deadly festivities Tuesday after police potted a young Moslem man suspected of links to the rebels, according to a police source. The man, who was tossed in the calaboose
Youse'll never take me alive coppers!... [BANG!]... Ow!... I quit!
overnight, was shot down when he tried to escape, the source said.
He said the man's death had sparked festivities that killed a policeman and added that tension remained high in the PK 5 neighborhood, which has in recent years been shaken by violence between Christians and Moslems.
The Seleka rebellion is seen by many people in the 85-percent Christian country as being Moslem-dominated, and there are likely many Moslems in the rebels' ranks, according to analyst Roland Marchal, a specialist in central African conflicts at the Gay Paree-based National Center for Scientific Research.
The central African military reinforcements were sent in after the rebels vowed on Monday to take Damara, which sits about 75 kilometers north of the capital.
Some of the 120 Gabonese troops arrived on Tuesday morning in Bangui, with most of the rest expected by the end of the day, the FOMAC source said.
The 120 troops from Congo-Brazzaville arrived on Monday, while the Cameroonian contingent is expected by the end of the week.
A Gabonese general will command the full force of 760 foreign troops in Damara, the source said.
In a nationally broadcast New Year's address, Bozize thanked his Chadian counterpart, President Idriss Deby, for sending in troops to protect his regime.
"Thanks to the Chadian army you are listening to me on the radio and watching me on television," he said.
"Otherwise, we would all be in the bush. Bangui would be empty today and embroiled in unrest. Thanks to the Chadian army, thanks to President Idriss Deby Itno of Chad."
Posted by: Fred 2013-01-02