On December 27, the Central African Republic held presidential elections. More than a week before the elections, under the secret command of the former CAR president, François Bozize, armed rebels began an offensive on the capital of the country, Bangui. In recent days, rebels have tried to seize a number of strategically important cities in the country and begin a blockade of the capital.
17 candidates ran for the presidency, including incumbent head of state Faustin-Arrange Touadera, who is seeking re-election for a second term. François Bozize’s candidacy was rejected by the Constitutional Court as he was issued an international arrest warrant in March 2014 for murder, arrest, abduction and torture. Unable to participate in the elections, he supports Touadera’s main rival, opposition leader Anise-Georges Dologele.
The election results are not known yet, but the Touadera party confidently declares victory, despite attempts by the opposition to invalidate the election. The current president owes much to the intervention of the MINUSCA peacekeeping contingent, a special armed group of Rwanda and instructors from Russia, who helped prevent the militants’ attack on the country’s capital from December 17.
“Сriminals cruelly killed, raped our women , sisters and daughters, burned crops, destroyed the socio-economic infrastructure of our country and plundered natural resources,” Faustin-Archange Touadera said in his New Year’s speech, thanking foreign partners for their assistance.
Clashes between militants and the Central African Armed Forces (FACA), supported by its foreign counterparts, have resulted in hundreds of refugees having been flooding into neighboring Cameroon.
According to the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) in Cameroon there have already been more that 2,000 new arrivals. They are mainly civilians. At the same time, over 100 CAR soldiers have escaped to these two Cameroonian border towns, according to local authorities.
Despite the fact that the elections in the country have already passed, small-scale clashes between rebels and government forces continue.
The Russian news portal Riafan reported that on the night of December 31 to January 1, government forces repelled a large rebel’s attack. Citing its own correspondents, Riafan claimed that more than 500 militants have been killed and wounded in the clashes. At the same time, it did not mention the place of the attack and provided no details. The news portal quoted its own special correspondents who noted that the attack was repelled thanks to Russian “instructors”.
“It is unclear why the militants decided that on New Year’s Eve, Russian instructors would not accompany the army units at their positions. Probably, they had an idea that the Russian “Vankas” would celebrate, forgetting about their service. It was a big surprise for them, ” said FAN special correspondent Sergei Chemekov.
“… Russian instructors helped the CAR servicemen organize competent defense. The militants suffered a crushing defeat, ” Chemekov said.
On December 22, Russia sent an additional 300 military instructors to the CAR amid the increase of the rebels’ pressure. The goal of the Russian military is to train the CAR national army personnel, at the request of the CAR government. The UN Security Council committee was informed of this action.
Claims about repelling a large-scale attack in just one night, without specifying any details, are more likely fake news. It does not probable that the CAR president would calmly congratulate the country on the New Year, while fierce battles were raging near the capital. Moreover, there is too little point to launch a massive attack after the election were held.
Such statements by the Russian media that aim to propagate the forces of the Russian military seem absurd and undermine international confidence in Russian sources of information.
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