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BUSTED! Frenchman Arrested With Large Arsenal In His Home In CAR

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A Frenchman was nabbed with a “very large arsenal” of weapons in the Central African Republic. Radio France Internationale reported that the weapons were found in the home of the French national who identified himself as Juan Remy Quignolot. Consequently, a government spokesperson told AFP news agency that Quignolot was detained in the nation’s capital, Bangui, on Monday. Valery Zakharov, the president’s security advisor, tweeted:

“A foreign citizen was detained in Bangui today [Monday] with a huge amount of arms and ammunition. An investigation is underway and the circumstances need to be clarified.”

Humanitarian sources said that the Frenchman has worked as a bodyguard in the Central African Republic (CAR). Also, Corbeaunews-Centrafrique, a local news platform, said Quignolot is a former French soldier and has lived in the capital for several years. Eric Didier Tombo, the attorney general of the Court of Appeal in Bangui, explained that the police department had been tracking Quignolot. He added that the police searched his home after obtaining an order.

While the French national claimed that he’s just a journalist, police reports revealed that he once trained fighters of the Seleka Coalition. Tombo said, “From the police sources we have had, it seems that in 2013, he was one of the Seleka supervisors.”

Seleka Coalition was a section of a rebel militia group that subjugated the Central African Republic in March 2013. Michel Djotodia, the leader of Seleka became president until his resignation in January 2014.

Central African Republic Conflict

President Faustin-Archange Touadera

President Faustin-Archange Touadera [Photo creditt: Africanarguments]

The current conflict began in 2012 when Seleka Coalition accused the government of ignoring peace agreements. By the end of that year, Seleka had captured many towns and later seized Bangui in 2013. Subsequently, President Bozizé fled the country and Michel Djotodia declared himself as the country’s president.

President Djotodia disbanded the Seleka coalition in September 2013 after it lost unity following renewed fighting with opposed militias—anti-balaka—and resigned the following year. Consequently, Catherine Samba-Panza took over as interim president until the election of Faustin-Archange Touadera in 2016.

Western Mercenary Intervention

Lately, Western mercenaries have been supporting the armed forces in the Central African Republic to fight rebels. Renewed fighting intensified after the 2020 election that saw Faustin-Archange Touadera re-elected as president. Former President Bozize, whose candidature had been rejected, disapproved election results.

Rebel groups coordinated by Bozize seized several towns in the west and north of the Central African Republic. With the help of Western soldiers, the CAR troops drove out rebels and retook many towns. Other African countries that have experienced civil wars like CAR have relied heavily on western help to fight rebel groups.

Do African countries need Western mercenaries to fight their battles?

In many war-torn African nations, Western soldiers help local forces towards restoring peace and stability. Weaponry from the West and the experience of Western mercenaries has helped African governments to win battles against labels. However, outside powers have also been accused of worsening some situations in Africa. For example, proxy wars pitting Russia and Rwanda against France and Chad threaten instability in CAR. While mercenaries from France and Chad support rebel groups led by Bozize, Russian soldiers support President Touadera’s government.

Some western mercenaries go as far as providing rebels with weapons. While there is no enough evidence to back this assertion, acts like those of Juan Remy Quignolot point in that direction. As the saying goes, ‘there is no smoke without fire’, ineffective monitoring of mercenaries makes them potentially dangerous. It appears a lot of people profit off Africa’s instability through the selling of arms and hiring mercenaries. But, how can Africa strengthen its local forces to reduce reliance on foreign soldiers and mercenaries? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

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