Francois Bozize, the former president of the Central African Republic who was forced to leave the country and now leads a rebel alliance, has been sentenced to life in prison with forced work for conspiracy, rebellion, and murder in the country, which has a history of instability.
Bozize took power in the CAR in 2003, but he was overthrown ten years later. According to a ruling the ministry sent to AFP on Thursday, he received a term even though he wasn’t present.
The same term was also given in absentia to two of Bozize’s sons and 20 other people, including rebel leaders.
A ruling by an appeals court in the city of Bangui said that they were also guilty of “murders” and “undermining internal security.”
The judge didn’t say anything about when the crimes happened or what they were.
Who is Bozize?
Bozize, who is 76 years old, lived in exile in Chad until March, when he went to Guinea-Bissau. He now leads the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC), a group of rebel groups that came together in December 2020 to try to get rid of Bozize’s replacement, Faustin Archange Touadera.
Ali Darassa, who was the military leader of the largest militia group in the CPC union, was one of the people who were jailed in Bangui.
Since 2013, when the Seleka, a Muslim-led armed alliance, ousted Bozize, the CAR has been in the midst of civil war. The CAR is known as one of the poorest countries in the world.
Bozize tried to get back in power by forming armed groups called “anti-Balakas” that were mostly made up of Christians.
In 2018, the war was a lot worse than it is now, but there is still bloodshed and the country is still very poor.
Role of France, UN
The UN has accused both sides of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity. Thousands of people were killed.
France, a former colonial power, sent troops into the country in 2013 to help stop the Christian civil war that had been getting worse.
With the help of the UN and its troops, Touadera was able to win the polls in 2016.
Two years later, Touadera brought in troops from Russia’s Wagner mercenary group to help train his army. In 2020, when rebel groups were getting closer to the city, he brought in even more Russian agents.
As anger on social media grew, France pulled its last troops out of the CAR in December.
In Africa, rights groups and other watchdogs have said that Wagner did terrible things and stole material wealth in return for helping weak governments.
Bozize, a former general, ignored UN penalties for his suspected part in the crisis in the Central African Republic (CAR) and ran away to Uganda at first.
He sneaked back home in 2020 to run for president, and then he took on the role of guerrilla leader.
He went to Chad at the end of 2021, after Russian paramilitaries helped government troops take back large chunks of land.
But the fact that Bozize was in Chad while his CPC fought a rebel war in northern CAR made things hard between the two countries. The CAR said that Chad let the terrorists use its land to do their work.
In March, he left Chad for Guinea-Bissau.