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Monday, 4 June, 2001, 15:32 GMT 16:32 UK
CAR fighting drags in neighbours
Bangui protesters
Bangui has frequently been the scene of unrest
By David Bamford

The crisis in the Central African Republic sparked by the 28 May coup attempt has drawn in military forces from a range of African countries fighting on both sides in the army mutiny that has come close to toppling the elected government of President Ange-Felix Patasse.

Supporting the President have been several hundred Libyan troops, flown into the CAR capital, Bangui, on the orders of the Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi.

They arrived in three Russian-built military transport planes equipped with armoured vehicles and at least two attack helicopters.

Their mission was to secure and protect strategic sites in the government-held north of the city, including the home of President Patasse and his family.

The strong Libyan presence was believed to be a key factor behind early appeals for a truce by the alleged rebel leader, General Andre Kolingba - appeals which the emboldened government side ignored as loyalist forces pursued the fleeing rebels into their strongholds in the southern suburbs of Bangui.

Chad

Soldiers from the regular army in neighbouring Chad were also brought in on board Libyan planes to help support President Patasse.

Map
Patasse is from the Sara tribe, which also dominates southern Chad.

On the same day that the uprising began in Bangui, the Chadian authorities announced that President Idriss Deby had been re-elected for a further five year term following peaceful multi-party elections.

Chad is developing oil reserves discovered close to the CAR border and wants to help ensure its southern neighbour does not destabilise and pose a threat to its new oil pipeline.

DR Congo

From the south, a faction of Ugandan-backed rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo also intervened on the side of President Patasse.

General  Andre Kolingba, ruler of the CAR until 1993
General Andre Kolingba: Support from Rwandan Hutus
The Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC), led by Jean-Pierre Bemba, controls the territory on the southern bank of the Congo river.

President Patasse has developed ties with the faction, which depends on supply lines running through the CAR.

The CAR government alleges that several hundred Rwandan Hutu irregulars were fighting alongside the rebels.

These included two Rwandan generals who it said were in collusion with General Kolingba when he launched the rebellion.

France

The unrest in CAR comes only a year after the United Nations withdrew its Minurca observer mission, established in Bangui following previous military uprisings in 1996 and 1997, put down with French military help.

President Patasse
Patasse: Backing from Libya, Chad and Congolese rebels
Several UN officials warned that Minurca's withdrawal might be premature.

The UN Security Council warned in January this year of renewed instability prompted by the CAR government's inability to pay civil service and army salaries.

France indicated it no longer wished to act in its post-colonial role as the CAR's sole financial and security guarantor.

Libya stepped in to partly bankroll the Patasse government, but this was not enough to prevent political unrest culminating in this latest army mutiny.

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See also:

03 Jun 01 | Africa
Army occupy CAR general's house
02 Jun 01 | Africa
Troops regain control in CAR
30 May 01 | Africa
CAR: Plagued by mutinies
29 May 01 | Africa
Civilians flee Bangui fighting
28 May 01 | Africa
CAR 'coup attempt' fails
23 May 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Central African Republic
28 Mar 01 | Africa
Impressions of Bangui
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