By Vincent Kende Niebede
May 30, 2021: Tensions between the Central African Republic (CAR) and Chad escalated when armed men from CAR attacked a security post in Sourou, on the border between Chad and the Central African Republic. The post was held by Chadian soldiers, five of whom were wounded, one killed on the spot, and five others captured before being summarily executed in Mbang, inside the CAR.
Ambassador Chérif Mahamat Zen, Chad’s top diplomat, asserted that the Central African government was responsible for the consequences of the aggression. Chad’s minister of foreign affairs agreed, calling the attacks a war crime of extreme gravity. He said that because the attacks were premeditated, planned, and carried out inside the country, they would not go unpunished. CAR authorities said the attacks were a mistake. They said their soldiers were chasing rebel groups who had crossed into Chad, and accidentally mistook Chadian soldiers for the rebels. They expressed regret at the incident. In the wake of the attack, dozens of vehicles carrying Chadian soldiers equipped with both light and heavy weapons were deployed along the border with the Central African Republic. Many senior Chadian army officers confirmed to Amjambo Africa an exchange of fire on the border of the two countries, but would not give more details. Voices in Chad and the CAR have been calling for restraint and wisdom in the handling of this crisis, since the two countries are historically and culturally related.
June 1, 2021: A delegation led by the Central African Minister of Foreign Affairs Sylvie Baipo Temon arrived in N’Djamena, Chad’s capital. The minister of defense and the minister of the interior were part of this Central African delegation which met General Mahamat Idriss Deby, president of the Military Transitional Council that has been leading Chad since the April 20 death of his father, President Idriss Deby. The Central African delegation also met with Ambassador Chérif Mahamat Zen, head of Chadian diplomacy, for a work session. After the session, they issued a joint communiqué.
Both sides reiterated the commitment of the two heads of states toward preserving peace and stability in the two countries. They issued statements recognizing the gravity of the situation, and stressed the urgency of shedding light on the circumstances of the attacks. The governments have agreed to set up an independent and impartial international commission of inquiry, comprised of experts from the United Nations, African Union, and Economic Community of Central African States. Experts from these organizations will establish the facts and produce a report examining responsibility for what happened. The two countries remain keen to strengthen their alliance.