CAR: Coup, or election, foiled by government?


Image by Getty Images via Daylife

The French press initially reported midday Sunday (14 March, local time) that the Central African Republic government had foiled plans for a coup attempt, set to take place between the 15th and the 20th. No one does coups quite like Bangui, usually with the French government pulling the strings: they’ve had a lot of practice. Jules Bernard Ouanda, the Minister of National Security and Public Order, recorded an announcement for Radio Centrafrique, passed on to the press, and since confirmed.

Ouanda claims that on Friday, the government of President François Bozizé obtained a “Plan of Action” made by the coup plotters, whom they refused to name, but described as “several political and military figures.” Ouanda red from a detailed plan: a “special form” dated March 8, subtitled “Preparations for coup from the period from March 15 to 20.” The government notations on the plan describe it as (according to a brief glimpse by reporters) “hatched by elements KAMIKAZE commandos, mercenaries, militias and expatriates in the pay of former President Ange-Félix PATASSE” Ouanda repeatedly refused to name names, but did read a portion of the “plan” that included orders to “reinforcement elements in the home of AFP.”

Reporters also spoke with former President Ange-Félix Patassé who in his thirty years of political leadership has been more than once a coup plotter, like current President Bozizé who ousted the President Patassé on 15 March 2003. Patassé told reporters “I phoned the minister. He told me that it was not me” who was blamed for the coup plan. He added that he expected it still might be an attempt to “eliminate” him from the scheduled 12 and 23 April two round Presidential elections.

Another such rival, Charles Massi was a Minister under both Patassé and Bozizé, in 2008 left political life to become the respectable front on the northeastern CPJP. When I first saw report in the CAR expat press and on the CPJP website around Xmas saying he was “kidnapped in Chad and turned over to the CAR”, I assumed this was infighting or overreaction. I was wrong. Sometime around January 9, Massi was tortured to death by the CAR government in Bossembele prison, a fact which the government admitted last month.

Lord preserve the CAR from political leaders, near and far.  It brings to mind a Brecht poem a friend of mind often repeats:

Empires collapse.
Gang leaders Are strutting about like statesmen. The peoples
Can no longer be seen under all these armaments.

See Also:  Centrafrique: When a neocolony collapses (17 December 2009)

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