Cpjp Motivations For Attack On Ndele

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¶1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The November 26 attack by the Patriotic
Convention for Justice and Peace (CPJP) on Ndele in the northern
Central African Republic (CAR) reignited a conflict largely
dormant since the start of the rainy season (Ref A). The counter
attack by the Central African Army (FACA) on December 8 ended
with the FACA claiming to have pursed the CPJP over the Chadian
border from their strongholds along the Ndele/Garba road. The
FACA have since returned to Ndele. Post suspects that the two
sides are trying to establish positions from which to negotiate
from strength — with the CPJP’s leadership looking for greater
control over the economy of the region and the FACA attempting
to prove to the CPJP and other rebel groups that it is not an
impotent force. END SUMMARY.

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Details of Ndele attack still unclear
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¶2. (SBU) In the early morning of November 26, the CPJP, a rebel
group based in northeastern CAR and comprised primarily of
Rounga tribesmen, launched a surprise attack on the provincial
capital Ndele, targeting government installations like the
headquarters of the Presidential Guard, the gendarmerie, and the
Prefet’s house. The CPJP hit targets with rocket propelled
grenades and light arms, occupied and looted the government
buildings, and left at noon when the FACA began its counter
attack. There are reports of looting in the town – it is
confirmed that the CPJP absconded with the Prefet’s vehicle –
but it is unclear if the looting was the work of the CPJP or
that of the local population taking advantage of the chaos.
Nevertheless, within the day, the FACA – who melted away during
the attack – regrouped and counter attacked, regaining control
of the town by the afternoon. Multiple reports from contacts in
Ndele mention wounded CPJP fighters summarily executed by the
FACA, with one specific report of a CPJP officer – and allegedly
a former wildlife park ranger – being shot after brief
questioning. There have been various exaggerated estimates of
killed and wounded on both sides, but we have yet to receive a
casualty estimate from an impartial observer.

¶3. (SBU) Ndele is a town made up mostly of mud buildings with
thatched roofs, and a number of buildings and houses burned as a
result of the fighting. While neither side seems to have
purposefully set fire to residences, one very important
residence did suffer damage – that of the Sultan of Ndele. The
Sultan is a man of great influence in the region and an informal
interlocutor between the government and the CPJP (Ref B).
Contacts at the UN suspect his residence, though close to the
FACA base and possibly the victim of stray fire, was likely
targeted by FACA mortar fire. Many in the government question
the Sultan’s allegiances and the mortar blast could be
interpreted as a message to the local leader.

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Who are the CPJP?
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¶4. (SBU) The CPJP is remarkably well organized, equipped, and
run relative to other ragtag rebel groups in the CAR. One
observer who traveled through the CPJP’s stronghold of
Akoursoubak the week before the attack saw a formal ceremony
where promotions were bestowed upon a select group of officers.
The observer also noticed recognizable military police manning
check points, distinctly separate from the regular militiamen.
The uniforms of the CPJP are reported to be new and originating
from the Chadian National Army (ANT) – the person saw the black

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stitching spelling out “A.N.T” bleeding through a white cloth
that covered up the patch. (We have heard other reports noting
the quality of CPJP equipment. Another observer said, “I
thought at first that they were ANT”). A different source, who
frequents the area, remarked that the CPJP does not extort taxes
from the local population, a practice common among the other
militia groups in the CAR.

¶5. Days after the attack, the CPJP announced an accord with
Abdulaye Miskine’s Democratic Front of the Central African
People (FDPC) (Ref C). The FDPC is a signatory to the
Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration program (DDR), but
recently pulled out claiming anger over the slow roll out of the
process. The FDPC is small, but very well armed (NOTE: There is
unconfirmed speculation that the Libyan government finances the
FDPC. They are also the only Central African militia with a
website: HYPERLINK “http://www.centrafriquefdpc.com”
www.centrafriquefdpc.com . END NOTE). The practical implications
of this alliance are unclear as the FDPC’s area of operation is
some 220 km from the CPJP’s, and their aims vis-`-vis the
government are very different.

¶6. (SBU) The day after the attack on Ndele, the CPJP released an
updated organizational chart (NOTE: These names are possibly
pseudonyms as combatants from this area often take on symbolic
names. END NOTE) :

— Dhafane Mohamed Moussa – Secretary General and Official
Negotiator, in charge External Relationships.
— Colonel Richard Deye – Chief of Staff
— Colonel Issa Adam – Troop Commander

The shadowy Karama Souleymane Nestor remains President of the
Supreme Council of the Movement, but rumors suggest that Nestor,
who may not be a Rounga, is only a figurehead for the real power
figures of the CPJP Interestingly, Charles Massi — the four
time former Central African Minister, former member of the
Central African National Assembly and proclaimed President of
the CPJP earlier in the year – was conspicuously left off the
announcement. This is likely as a result of the failure of
Massi to bring the CARG to the negotiating table. More
importantly, this release likely signifies that the CPJP, with
the announcement of an “Official Negotiator” days after the
attack, are gesturing to the government that they seek a
settlement.

¶7. (SBU) Many in the Rounga community, both in Ndele and in
Bangui, purport to be perplexed by the CPJP. While they admit
that some of their youth have joined the CPJP, they hold fast
that the leadership is “foreign” – a term of ambiguous
definition.

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COMMENT: Diamonds Motivate the CPJP
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¶8. (SBU) The CARG does not have the strength to effectively
quash the CPJP. The CPJP has made no public calls to join the
DDR process, and when asked claim their goal is “justice and
peace for all Central Africans”. The true motivation behind the
CPJP’s rebellion likely lies with the diamond mines near Ndele:

— After violence in 2007 in the Vakaga, Post believes that the
CARG subcontracted responsibility for the region to the
increasingly Goula dominated UFDR led by Zakaria Damane in
return for payments back to Bangui.

— The UFDR was previously multiethnic, but started to fragment
once the conflict with the CARG subsided. Damane, a Goula,

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maintained his support within the UFDR by increasingly relying
on his ethnicity against all others. The Rounga in particular
suffered and were pushed off their traditional diamond fields in
eastern CAR and specifically those at Sam Ouandja and Bria.

— It was this event that sparked the creation of the CPJP. It
is thought that the CPJP is a combination of former Rounga UFDR
fighters and potentially former Presidential Guard members who
helped President Bozize to power in 2003 but who then found
themselves alienated from Bangui. They coalesced around the
Rounga who now run the diamond mines around Ndele and may be
seeking to obtain a deal similar to the one that Damane attained
from Bozize: control over the diamonds and trade in the region
in return for payments back to Bozize.

¶9. (SBU) The area north of Ndele is geographically and
politically remote from Bangui, making confirmation of facts and
figures difficult, but the attack on Ndele was clearly bruising
to the CARG’s ego with various ministers emotionally blaming
international NGOs in the area with aiding and abetting the
militia and threatening to revoke their right to work in the
region. The question thus remains: was the embarrassment felt by
the government ameliorated enough by the counterattack that they
can begin a dialogue? Bangui has yet to show it has an interest
in a deal, but the CPJP may have exhibited just enough muscle in
this important time before national elections in April 2010 to
get the government’s attention. END COMMENT.
COOK