Guinea-Bissau president rejects extradition of CAR’s former leader

Guinea-Bissau’s President Umaro Sissoco Embalo has firmly stated that he will not extradite Francois Bozize, the former leader of the Central African Republic (CAR), despite an international arrest warrant hanging over Bozize for possible crimes against humanity.

The warrant was issued by a special UN-backed court in Bangui, the capital of CAR, as part of an investigation into alleged “crimes against humanity” committed by Bozize’s presidential guard between 2009 and 2013 at a civilian prison and a military training facility.

Bozize, aged 77, seized power in a coup in CAR in 2003, only to be ousted a decade later. He currently leads the country’s primary rebellion and has been residing in exile in Guinea-Bissau since March 2023.

President Embalo made his stance clear, stating, “I’m not going to extradite him because there is no agreement between our two countries to that effect. Unless Bozize himself decides to go elsewhere.”

He expressed surprise at the arrest warrant issued by the Central African authorities, emphasizing that it was unexpected and contrary to the discussions he had with CAR President Faustin Archange Touadera.

The alleged crimes attributed to Bozize include murder, enforced disappearance, torture, rape, and other inhumane acts, as outlined by the Special Criminal Court (CPS), a hybrid jurisdiction based in Bangui consisting of Central African and foreign magistrates.

The international warrant was issued on February 27, according to the CPS, which was established in 2015 with UN sponsorship.

The court’s mandate includes investigating war crimes committed since 2003 in CAR, a nation marked by civil wars and authoritarian regimes since gaining independence from France in 1960.

Bozize’s legal troubles escalated in September when he was sentenced in absentia to forced labor for life for conspiracy, rebellion, and murder.

Despite the mounting legal pressure, Embalo’s refusal to extradite Bozize underscores the complexities surrounding the case and the diplomatic tensions between Guinea-Bissau and CAR.

The situation adds another layer of uncertainty to the already volatile political landscape in the region.

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