François Bozizé’s New Life in CAR
By Jean Réné Meva’a Amougou , US Africa News. Updated 2014-04-12
“Something happened in Baboua in the night', a Burundian officer of the International Support Mission to the Central African Republic (Misca) keeps repeating to his subordinates. Since this morning of February 26, 2014, information on the presence of Bozizé in Baboua has circulated among the Misca soldiers committed to escort refugees to Garoua-Boulai in Cameroon. For strategic operating purposes, a run to Baboua is a good option for the soldiers of Misca. As soldiers, they feel they are spreading their wings. "Since the Sangaris [the name given to the UN mission, after a local butterfly] put Bozizé and his men on the ‘black list’, we must go running after the slightest hint of his presence", confides the Burundian Misca officer. And according to Misca intelligence, "all efforts are focused on locating him”.
It is a beautiful morning. The air is bright, the sky, blue, and the puddles left by the rain of the previous day shine under the sun. For a traveler from Cameroon, there is nothing striking in Baboua, located 180 kilometers of the Cameroonian border: architectural similarities, lifestyle similar to that of the Baya of Cameroon... it’s a small, Christian-dominated village, whose inhabitants (all Bayas) are not numerous, maybe 30 or less. Everything is calm. Here, military sources indicate that the inhabitants have a reputation for being as welcoming as they are rebellious when confronted. Just behind the line of the little savannah emerges the jagged profile of the deep valleys. At the peak of one of them, an old man is crouched between the mounds of earth. Ernest Akalozo is formal: "The general has stayed here again tonight.” Ernest Akalozo points to a case. "This is the second time within a month that Bozizé is staying here. This time he arrived accompanied by two people. He was dressed in a bright red cloth knotted at the shoulder and had a gnarled stick in hand". It is this cliché, that the soldiers of the Misca retain in memory. The faces that we cross read cold and blank. But at the same time, from the testimony of the villagers, we learn that "Bozizé told us that he is no longer making savage war.” This is the tone he is circulating, on the need to change not only posture, but logic. The same story, enriched with a few details, is obtained later from a lady, who was about 15 meters away. "There were two motorcycles and a large suitcase. He told us that he came from far away. He said that whites are looking for him. When he arrived, he was unrecognizable. It was at nightfall. Whites are looking for him; but we don’t want any problems. The general also said that whites are going to kill us all and that he was going to look for money to stop them. He told us insistently about the mismanagement of the conflict by whites, and not to reveal where he was.”
Today, through incessant media bombardment and the spread of gossip, the General arrives at Baboua without announcement. From now on, his movements are coordinated with finesse by hand signals and intelligence actions--subtly and without bombast. In the light of the evidence, his statements are intended for the French forces. He accuses them of war, and invariably negative actions. In his approach, François Bozizé appears caught in the mesh of the French net, woven by the United Nations Security Council. According to the weekly Jeune Afrique, No. 2772, from February 23 to March 1 2014, a list of eight names of officials suspected of supporting the Seleka or Anti-Balaka has been circulating, with the names of Bozizé and one of his sons therein.
War as war
For a little more than a month, François Bozizé has no longer been just a trivial element in the routine of war in the Central African Republic. On February 3, newspaper exclusive story announced his presence in Bouar, in the province of Garoua-Boulai in Cameroon. That generated concerns in Bangui. This time, our information no longer needs evidence. Enough indicators, corroborated by testimony, put Bozizé frequently on Central African land. In Misca military circles, one heard that that "he even sent a request for a hearing to Francois Hollande, who was in Bangui last week". "A real scandal", commented a high-ranking Burundian.
But this scandal has been very important. First because it was in a context where Bozizé seems to be constructing his strategy around an eventual return to business. From this perspective, "he wanted to meet F. Holland in order to qualify for, if not impunity, at least of a sort of indulgent extraterritoriality", said a Misca source. Also, one cannot help but think about the strange coincidence in Bozizé’s itineraries. According to military information, "Baboua village is located on the artery that leads to Bouar.” This tends to confirm that the CAR’s ex-President General is caught up in the paralysis of fear. And then, he finds it judicious to turn near the border with Cameroon, precisely at Garoua-Boulai... just in case. This last point may finally explain that a strategy is being prepared behind the scenes. According to the weekly Jeune Afrique, F. Bozize was in Uganda.