One of the main armed groups in the Central African Republic, a member of a rebel coalition seeking to overthrow the regime of President Faustin Archange Touadéra, announced on Friday the death of its leader, Sidiki Abass, from injuries sustained during an attack in November.
In a statement, the group “3R” announced the “sad news of the death of its founding president, General Sidiki Abass, on March 25” in a health centre in the north of the country.
He died “as a result of serious injuries he sustained during the attacks that took place precisely in Bossembélé on November 16, 2020,” said General Bobbo, a senior official of the 3R movement, who signed the statement and authenticated the document to AFP.
Sidiki Abass, whose real name is Bi Sidi Souleymane, was one of the main leaders of armed groups in the Central African Republic.
The 3R movement (for “Return, Reclamation, and Rehabilitation”), made up mostly of Fulani, was originally formed to defend this nomadic herding community in northwestern CAR, where conflicts with sedentary farmers are recurrent.
In December, Sidiki Abass and his movement joined the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC), an alliance of Central African armed groups that launched an offensive two weeks before the presidential election to prevent the re-election of President Touadéra and overthrow his regime.
Well-equipped, the 3Rs have been at the forefront of the fighting against pro-government forces, managing to advance as far as a hundred kilometres from Bangui.
The 3R communiqué dates the injury of their leader to November 16, one month before the start of the rebel offensive. However, according to several security and UN sources, it was in December, during the initial fighting, that Sidiki Abass was hit in an ambush on his convoy.
Rumours of his death have been circulating ever since, but the 3R movement has refused to confirm this information.
Since January, Central African troops, assisted by hundreds of Rwandan soldiers and Russian paramilitaries, have been conducting a counter-offensive against the CPC, which has resulted in the liberation of most of the localities occupied by the rebels in December.
The 3Rs have lost much ground, but they remain a serious threat in the northwest, where their knowledge of the area allows them to operate off the few tracks accessible to government vehicles.