October 17, 2010:
After two decades in power, president Deby is stronger than ever. He's outsmarted, outfought and outlasted all his enemies. The new oil wealth, and continued foreign aid, has provided the resources needed to reward friends, and buy weapons to use against enemies. For dictator and president-for-life Deby, life is good.
Central African Republic (CAR) has calmed down. Aside from some LRA raids, or panics, in the south, the civil war has apparently ended. Foreign aid efforts are trying to fix the many economic, cultural, and political problems.
October 13, 2010: CAR hosted officials from Uganda, Congo, Sudan and Kenya, to discuss how to deal with the LRA (Lord's Resistance Army). A year ago, these rebels were chased into CAR from Uganda. The LRA terrorized local villagers and has drove thousands of farmers from their lands, increasing the food shortages in CAR. LRA also kidnapped people, and turned them into slaves (some are eventually turned into fighters for the group). This terrified CAR civilians, who had more incentive to flee if it was believed that LRA gunmen were in the area. Uganda moved troops into CAR to chase LRA out, but the rebels continue to cross borders when pressed, and the two days of current discussions are meant to make it easier for troops to keep the pressure on LRA gunmen who use borders to escape punishment. Currently, the LRA are back in the southern CAR, but they make a circuit involving raids in Congo and Sudan. So far this year, LRA has staged at least 240 attacks, killing some 350 people and robbing or injuring thousands in CAR alone. The LRA has been around for over a decade, and has acquired a fierce reputation. This has led to mass panic in areas where LRA is thought to be, or simply approaching. In the last two years, at least 400,000 people have fled their homes in fear of LRA.
October 11, 2010: The anti-Deby UFR (Union of Resistance Forces) rebels have accepted the government amnesty. Based in Sudan, the UFR has suffered massive defections in the last year, largely because UFR leaders have been negotiating with the Chad government. As a result of this, earlier this year, three rebel groups that belong to UFR defected and formed the new ANCD (National Alliance for Democratic Change). Also based in Sudan, near the Chad border, the ANCD has pledged to overthrow current Chad president Deby (who, while corrupt, would probably not be replaced by anyone better). The most recent peace deal between Chad and Sudan was particularly damaging to Chad rebel organizations in Sudan. This time, the Sudanese have really cracked down, forcing rebel leaders to leave and harassing their numerous armed followers as well.
Over the last two years, Chad rebels have made two desperate, and unsuccessful, attacks clear from the Sudan border to the distant Chad capital. The country is too large, and the rebels too weak, for these attacks to succeed. So the rebels are giving up, for the moment. But some UFR rebels have quietly moved from Sudan to CAR. These defections, plus those earlier this year by those who formed the ANCD, meant that less than half the UFR has actually surrendered. There are still plenty (a few thousand, full and part time) of Chad rebels out there. Many of those who moved to CAR, were supplied, trained and equipped by Sudan, and now have to fend for themselves. As chaotic as Sudan was, CAR is worse. The CAR civil war is currently on hold, and the arrival of Chadian rebels is likely to cause more disorder.
September 26, 2010: The government has delayed national elections until April of next year. The elections were to have taken place next month and in December. But the government said that preparations were taking longer than expected, and the delay was necessary. The opposition parties see this as another ploy to delay, and then rig, the elections. Cheating during elections is quite common in Chad.