Rwanda and Central African Republic Forge Bilateral Cooperation Amid Accusations of Interference

In an afternoon meeting at Urugwiro Village on June 8, 2023, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda welcomed President Faustin-Archange Touadéra of the Central African Republic on his working visit to Rwanda. The two Heads of State engaged in discussions regarding ongoing bilateral cooperation.

Coinciding with President Touadéra’s visit, Gen James Kabarebe, the Senior Defence and Security Advisor to President Kagame, embarked on a three-day working visit to the Central African Republic on June 8, 2023. Gen Kabarebe’s primary objective was to meet with Rwanda Security Forces operating under the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic, as well as Rwandan troops stationed in the country under a bilateral agreement.

Rwanda’s involvement in peacekeeping efforts in the Central African Republic dates back to 2014 when it first deployed its blue helmets as part of the MINUSCA mission. In 2020, Rwanda reinforced its troop presence under the bilateral agreement, responding to a targeted attack on its own contingent by rebels. The continued cooperation between Rwanda and the Central African Republic has led to strengthened ties with Rwandan investors.

However, some opposition groups have expressed concerns about the deepening cooperation, suggesting that Rwandan President Paul Kagame may have ulterior motives, including potential interference in domestic politics and financial support for his Central African counterpart’s political projects. These claims have been met with denials from both governments, emphasizing the mutually beneficial nature of their cooperation.

It is important to note that the presence of approximately 1,000 Wagner mercenaries in the Central African Republic since 2018 has added complexity to the country’s security landscape. These mercenaries, believed to be associated with Russia, have been deployed to protect the government of President Touadéra and secure valuable natural resources. However, allegations of human rights abuses, including the torture and killing of civilians, have raised international concerns.