MINUSCA detains convoy of armed men near Sibut
Early on the morning of Saturday 13 August 2016, MINUSCA forces stopped a convoy of approximately 35 heavily armed men in seven vehicles 50 km south of Sibut. The 35 were believed to include several who are the subject of arrest warrants. The convoy had departed Bangui late on 12 August 2016 and exchanged fire with national security forces at several checkpoints en route. These incidents resulted in a number of deaths and injuries.
In line with MINUSCA’s robust mandate, MINUSCA forces blocked the convoy from proceeding and demanded that all weapons and munitions should be surrendered. This demand was rejected, and a stand-off ensued for several hours. MINUSCA ground forces were supported by air cover. Following a helicopter overflight, members of the convoy fled into the surrounding bush with MINUSCA forces in pursuit. MINUSCA captured and detained ten armed men, who were taken to MINUSCA military base in Sibut. MINUSCA troops recovered a significant quantity of weapons and munitions, as well as the vehicles used by the convoy.
MINUSCA has remained in contact with the Government and authorities throughout this episode, including at the highest levels. MINUSCA sought to deploy a joint team of government authorities, with MINUSCA support, to enable appropriate and swift handling of this situation, in line with the rule of law. The MINUSCA team arrived in Sibut on 13 August, interviewed the detainees and addressed the needs of the injured, who are being treated on site in Sibut. The CAR authorities were expected in Sibut on 14 August.
As the national authorities, the CAR Government has the primary responsibility for the restoration and maintenance of public safety and the rule of law. MINUSCA, in line with its mandate, is acting in support of this responsibility. It should be noted that the UN Security Council, in its most recent Resolution 2301 on the situation in the Central African Republic, demanded that all militias and armed groups lay down their arms, and cease all forms of violence and destabilizing activities.
MINUSCA reiterates its appeal to all armed groups and militias to adhere to the DDRR process initiated by CAR President Touadéra, in conformity with the DDRR Agreement reached during the May 2015 Bangui Forum. MINUSCA encourages all Central Africans to prioritise dialogue, including through early agreement on an inclusive DDRR process.