On Wednesday, January 13, 2021, attacks by rebel forces at two locations near the capital were repelled by peacekeepers and the Central African Army. The security situation in the country, already unstable, is becoming even more fragile.
Shots were heard this Wednesday morning, around 5:45 a.m. local time, at 9 and 12 km from Bangui, in the neighborhoods of PK 11, Damala, PK 12 and Pindao. Rebel troops went on the offensive and attacked positions of the Central African armed forces. But the response was swift on the part of loyalist forces and their allies. So far, the death toll has been one peacekeeper, a soldier of Rwandan origin, and 10 rebels, as well as the capture of several rebel elements.
Exchanges of fire with heavy weapons and automatic weapons forced the populations of the neighborhoods concerned to hide in their homes.
But gunfire was still heard in the afternoon. While the authorities indicate that these were « sweep operations » carried out by government forces, other sources point to new assaults by the rebels in the afternoon of Wednesday. It should be noted that the rebel troops have never been so close to Bangui, which they had promised to march on, since the formation of the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC), a few days before the December 27, 2020 elections.
With today’s attacks, one can legitimately ask, how long will Bangui hold out? It is true that the regular Central African army, the 12,000 UNAMIS peacekeepers and Rwandan and Russian supporters are placing particular emphasis on protecting the capital. But for how much longer?
For his part, Roland Marchal, a researcher at the Center for International Research (CERI) at Sciences Po Paris, believes that « what the rebels have understood is that the international community measures the crisis in the Central African Republic from what is happening in Bangui. This is why they are taking action in the immediate periphery of Bangui, not to take Bangui, which is highly defended, but to show that Touadéra no longer controls anything or very little ».
With two-thirds of Central African territory in rebel hands, the Bangui authorities only control a small portion. With their latest advances, the rebels still seem to be nibbling away at this portion. This further jeopardizes the power of Bangui.