Last week, dramatic arrests were made at Gbadolite Airport in the Nord-Ubangi province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, close to the border with the Central African Republic (CAR). A plane had touched down carrying explosives and ammunition for AK-47 rifles, cargo that the Congolese authorities seized after arresting several people.
Though the investigation into the arms shipment is still under way, preliminary findings suggest the intercepted delivery is part of an arms smuggling network extending from the capital Kinshasa into CAR, using Gbadolite as a way station, according to Nord-Ubangi governor Izato Nzege Koloke. Congolese intelligence believes the weapons and ammunition were to be delivered to armed groups in CAR and to local bandits.
Recent clashes in the Central African Republic point to a breakdown of the peace agreement.
The Central African Republic is one of several conflict theaters that the African Union is seeking to address with its Silencing the Guns initiative, part of which is concerned with halting the flow of illegal small arms into warzones. Analysts have lamented the slow progress of the African Union’s continent-wide initiative as recently as the annual summit held in early February 2020.
The situation in CAR may be less volatile than the conflicts in Libya, the Lake Chad region, and Somalia, but recent clashes point to a breakdown of the peace agreement signed between rebel groups and the government in Bangui in February 2019.