In a significant development in the Central African Republic, 23 individuals, including the country’s former president, François Bozizé, and several prominent rebel leaders, have been sentenced to life imprisonment with forced labor. This verdict stems from their involvement in an armed offensive during the presidential election of December 2020. The ruling was handed down in absentia by the Bangui Court of Appeals.
Among those convicted are François Bozizé, along with his sons, Jean-Francis and Aimé-Vincent, known as “Papy,” and the leaders of the key rebel groups in the Central African Republic, including Nourredin Adam, Ali Darassa, Mohamed Al-Khatim, Abakar Sabone, and Sambe Bobo. This decision was reached on September 21, 2023, during a criminal session of the Bangui Court of Appeals.
These individuals tried in absentia, were found guilty of seven charges, including undermining national security, conspiracy, and rebellion. Notably, Maxime Mokom, a former anti-balaka leader, was also among those sentenced, although he is currently detained by the International Criminal Court.
The verdict, delivered by the court’s president, Thierry Joachim Pessiré, was reported by RFI through the correspondent of Deutsche Welle in Bangui.
François Bozizé, who has been living in exile in Guinea-Bissau, faced the legal repercussions of the events that unfolded in December 2020. During that time, the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC) launched an offensive aimed at disrupting the presidential election, which had invalidated François Bozizé’s candidacy. Ultimately, the offensive was thwarted in late January by the Rwandan and Russian allies of President Faustin-Archange Touadéra, just outside the capital, Bangui.
Since then, the CPC has struggled to maintain its coherence, with François Bozizé forced to leave Chad for Guinea-Bissau in March of this year. Tensions have emerged among its various leaders, but each faction continues to control specific territories and engage in sporadic attacks against Central African military forces and Russian Wagner mercenaries.