Voices from part of the Central African opposition and civil society have been rising for several days to protest against the Rwandan presence in the Central African Republic. Some organizations even plan to demonstrate, notably in front of the Rwandan embassy in Paris, in order to make this claim heard and to demand the departure of Paul Kagame’s troops from Central African territory.
At the head of this movement are opponents such as Crépin Mboli-Goumba and the former Minister of Education Gisèle Bedan. The Action Group of Civil Society Organizations for the Defense of the Constitution of March 30, 2016 (G16), whose leader is based in France, is also giving voice.
Why this objection? The protesters believe that Rwanda provides, through its military aid, significant support to President Faustin-Archange Touadéra in his current quest to modify the Constitution and, in doing so, to obtain a third term, which is now prohibited by law. Since the end of 2019 and the official visit of Rwandan President Paul Kagame to the Central African Republic, relations between Bangui and Kigali have indeed never ceased to improve.
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President Touadéra’s emissaries regularly travel to Kigali, while those of the Rwandan president constantly come to Bangui. Political, economic and military agreements were signed to crown this rapprochement. Kigali had especially come to the rescue of Bangui when, in late 2020 and early 2021, the rebels of the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC) were at the gates of Bangui and threatened to take power.
The Rwandan special forces, as well as the Russian mercenaries of the Wagner group, then contributed to loosening the noose around the capital. Since then, Rwandan soldiers, deployed specifically to ensure the protection of President Touadera, have also carried out offensives against pockets of rebellion resistance inside the country. In addition, on the economic level, within the framework of the agreement between the two countries, several Rwandan businessmen have settled in Bangui.
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According to a presidential source Central African, “The desire to see Rwanda withdraw from the Central African Republic comes mainly from opponents who support the CPC rebellion, because their coup plan can never succeed if we have an ally like Rwanda. So we have to get them out. The reasoning of Rwandan interference is pure distraction”. Our source even accuses Central African opponents of financing a campaign against the Rwandan presence.
Obtain the support of the DRC
Do the protesters have another objective? By attacking Kigali, this fringe of the opposition could in any case curry favor with the DRC, currently in conflict with the Central African Republic. “The opposition wants to ride this wave to prove to the Congolese authorities that they can count on the opponents, in order to obtain political and financial support from the direct neighbor of Bangui”, adds a member of the Central African government who requested the ‘anonymity.
In any case, Kigali does not intend to be intimidated. “Rwanda’s intervention in the Central African Republic is aimed at the government and its institutions, not at an individual. Rwanda cannot in any case be involved in the internal politics of the Central African Republic, even less in the project of modifying the Constitution of this country”, thus recently declared to the media Vincent Biruta, Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs. According to our information, Rwandan President Paul Kagame intends to increase his military strength in Central African Republic.