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UN panel: Sudanese traffickers selling arms to CAR rebels

January 3 - 2019 NEW YORK
Rebels in the Central African |Republic (File photo)
Rebels in the Central African |Republic (File photo)

Sudanese arms traffickers have been supplying small arms to Muslim rebels in the Central African Republic (CAR), according to a new report to the UN Security Council by the panel of experts tasked with monitoring sanctions on the CAR.

The report asserts that the Muslim rebels of the former Seleka alliance, who briefly seized power in the CAR in 2013, are re-arming to counter the deployment of newly-trained government troops to their areas of influence. The UN panel of experts report that the rebels have received fresh weapons supplies from traffickers in Sudan even as they take part in peace talks.

"The influx of weapons from the Sudan, noted since January 2018, has resulted in UPC and FPRC fighters increasingly being seen with pistols and AK-type assault rifles, as well as rocket-propelled grenade launchers and machine guns mounted on their vehicles," said the report to the Security Council.

The Union for Peace in CAR (UPC) and Popular Front for the Renaissance of CAR (FPRC) are two renamed groups from the Seleka rebel alliance that held power in Bangui from March 2013 to January 2014.

The alliance handed over power to a transitional government after Christian militias, known as the Anti-balaka, rose up against it.

The council has approved shipments of weapons from France, Russia, China, the United States and Belgium to shore-up CAR's poorly-equipped army while military trainers from Russia and the European Union have been sent to the volatile country.

Russian presence

As reported by Radio Dabanga in August 2018, a force of about 500 Russian soldiers was stationed near Um Dafug on the border between South Darfur in Sudan and the Central African Republic (CAR), later withdrew into the CAR in the direction of Bembere.

Reportedly the Russian soldiers were received and hosted by the government in a camp 15 kilometres south of Um Dafug. There had been a Russian presence in the area for the past five months.

Witnesses and trusted sources in Darfur have explained about the nature and function of the force. According to source on the ground, during their five-month stay in the area, the troops were conducting military training for some 600 Seleka Muslim rebels from CAR and Sudanese soldiers.

They report that the training includes the dismantling and installation of advanced types of weapons, instruction for driving vehicles, and training for paramedics.

The sources said that the forces withdrew on Tuesday from Um Dafug area into the CAR towards Bembere. The retreating Russian forces took all their vehicles and equipment and left only 50 people and one vehicle 15 kilometres south Um Dafug.

(Sources: AFP / RD)

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