U.N. peacekeepers in Central African Republic have arrested a Chadian warlord wanted by authorities for abuses against the population in the north of country, the U.N. mission and the government said.
Abdel Kader Baba-Ladde was captured by peacekeepers in the northern district of Kabo, close to the Chadian border, Myriam Dessables, spokeswoman for the U.N. mission (MINUSCA), said.
She said peacekeepers were acting on behalf of Central African authorities, who have issued an arrest warrant for Ladde for crimes committed on Central African soil between 2008 and 2012. She declined to give further details.
Ladde, leader of Chad’s Popular Front for Reform (FPR), held sway over large parts of northern Central African Republic for about four years after being expelled from Chad in 2008 by forces loyal to President Idriss Deby.
He returned to Chad in 2012 under a U.N.-brokered peace deal and briefly held posts as a minister and a prefect in Chad’s southern Grande Sido region.
A former Chadian gendarmerie officer, Ladde portrayed himself as a champion of the marginalized peulh ethnic group across central Africa. Peulh’s traditional herder lifestyle has increasingly brought them into conflict for scarce resources with farming populations.
Government officials in Chad and Central African Republic dismissed his political agenda and described Ladde as a brigand.
His FPR has been accused by Central African authorities of killing civilians, cattle rustling, highway robbery and an attack on an Areva uranium mine. Tens of thousands of people were displaced in clashes between the FPR, Chadian and Central African troops at that time, according to aid groups.
“Baba Ladde is on Central African soil. As you know, he has committed abuses in Central African Republic and he must answer for his acts before the law,” Public Prosecutor Ghislain Grezengue said.
The interim government of President Catherine Samba Panza is due to guide the landlocked country of 4.5 million people to elections next year, with the support of French and U.N. peacekeeping missions.
Central African Republic was plunged into chaos when the mostly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power briefly in 2013, before retreating northward in the face of sectarian reprisals. The country remains divided along religious lines, with a government-controlled, Christian-dominated south and a Muslim, rebel-controlled north.