Government officials from the Central African Republic (C.A.R.) have accused former President François Bozizé of attempting a coup. The three main armed rebel groups in the country have formed a coalition against the government and are seeking to elect former President François Bozizé to power. The presidential elections are scheduled for December 27.

Bozizé had come to power with his Kwa Na Kwa party after a coup in 2003. But he was ousted 10 years later by a Muslim minority rebel coalition named Seleka, which accused him of breaking peace agreements.

The rebel groups’ coalition is named the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC) and it operates under a unified command. They said they decided to form CPC out of fear of massive election fraud from the incumbent regime of  President Faustin-Archange Touadéra, who is currently seeking re-election. The coalition has invited “all other armed groups to join.” 

This move by the CPC is expected to inflame the already heightened tensions in the country. 

The CPC also instructed all its members to “scrupulously respect the integrity of the civilian population” and to allow free reign to vehicles belonging to humanitarian groups and the UN.

Since Bozizé’s ouster, C.A.R. has descended into violence between the Muslim Seleka and the Christian self-defense forces known as the “anti-Balaka.” About two-thirds of the country are controlled by armed militias, often fighting over precious national resources.

As violence reigned following Bozizé’s presidency, the former colonial ruler of C.A.R., France, intervened militarily and ensured elections which resulted in Touadéra coming to power in 2016. 

Bozizé returned to C.A.R. about a year ago after living in exile for six years in Benin, Cameroon, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. He still has a large loyal base within the military and the Gbaya, the largest ethnic group in the country.