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Central African Republic government suspends Chinese mining company for alleged ties to armed groups

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BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) — The government of the Central African Republic suspended a Chinese mining company’s operations in the country, accusing it of cooperating with armed militias, a government decree said.

The country’s ministry of mines accused Daqing SARL, a Chinese gold and diamond mining company, of “intelligence with armed groups, illegal exploitation, illegal introduction of foreign subjects into mining areas, non-payment of taxes and lack of activity reports,” in the decree, which was made public Saturday.

Daqing SARL operated in Mingala, a town in the south of the Central African Republic that has been plagued by fighting between the country’s armed forces and the Coalition of Patriots for Change, an anti-government armed group.

The Central African Republic has been in conflict since 2013, when predominantly Muslim rebels seized power and forced the President Francois Bozize from office. Mostly Christian militias fought back.

A 2019 peace deal only lessened the fighting, and six of the 14 armed groups that signed later left the agreement. The Coalition of Patriots for Change was founded in 2020 in the aftermath of the agreement.

The country remains one of the poorest in the world despite its vast mineral wealth of gold and diamonds among others. Rebel groups have operated with impunity across the embattled country over the past decade, thwarting mining exploration by foreign companies.

Many of those now operating in the country are Chinese-run and have faced security challenges. Last month, four workers were killed at a Chinese-run gold mine during an attack that the local government blamed on the Coalition of Patriots for Change. Last year, nine Chinese nationals were killed at another gold mine in the Central African Republic. The government blamed the attack on the same rebel alliance. In 2020, two Chinese nationals died when local residents led an uprising against a Chinese-operated mine in the south of the country.

By JEAN FERNAND KOENA
Associated Press

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