Liberators (Central African Republic)

Country: Central African Republic
Details of Formation: After the unsuccessful coup against President Patassé, Bozizé fled to Chad, bringing with him armed supporters, mainly military dissidents (UCDP). In Chad, a high-ranking Chadian military officer helped him to recruit more combatants with the permission of the Chadian President. Bozizé then used this new group of combatants for his successful coup in CAR in 2003. (Debos 2008)
Details of Termination: The group gradually dissolved. After the coup, the relationship between Bozizé and the liberators deteriorated rapidly, as members demanded their payment. In April 2004, ex-liberators were expelled to Chad. A DDR program was undertaken in CAR in 2004 but did not reach all liberators. Many former liberators either joined road bandits or rebel movements in CAR and Chad. They allegedly made up a significant number of the Sudanese-backed rebel movement that attacked N’Djamena in 2006 (Debos 2008). News sources report that some ex-liberators were integrated into the CAR army.
Purpose: The group’s key purpose had been to assist Bozizé in his fight against the government of the CAR. When Bozizé succeeded and the group became a PGM, their purpose was to secure Bozizés stay in power (Debos 2008). A news source reports that they were largely responsible for ensuring social order.
Organisation: The group is often called Bozizé’s force. Bozizé was a career army officer who staged a successful coup against Patassé in 2003 and became the new President of the CAR (UCDP). Col. Yalo, who was promoted to the position of Chief of Presidential Security, was in charge of recruitment to the liberators and is thought to have maintained control over them.
Weapons and Training: When the liberators became a PGM, they had little or no military training. Later, some loyal members received military training with the aim of integrating them into the CAR army upon completion of the training.
Size: When Bozizé came to Bangui for his coup, the group numbered around 1,000 troops (UCDP). A news source of July 2003 speaks of 1,200 patriots that the government planned to demobilise.
Reason for Membership: Bozizé recruited ex-combatants and impoverished youth who had expectations of upward social mobility. Many were motivated by the promise of high bonuses they would receive, but many joined to avenge relatives who had been killed by Miskine’s militia (Chadian Special Guard). (Debos 2008) After the coup, when they did not receive the promised payment, many began to demand the promised payment for their support and started to loot. In some cases, members received a compensation payment for demobilization.
Treatment of Civilians: The liberators were involved in armed robbery, assassinations and kidnapping.
Other Information: The Liberators (libératuers) is the name given to the combatants who helped Bozizé in his armed coup in 2003 (Debos 2008). They are also called Patriots. While still preparing for the coup, the Liberators rebel group had been supported by the government of Chad (UCDP).
References: Debos, Marielle. 2008. “Fluid Loyalties in a Regional Crisis: Chadian 'Ex-Liberators' in the Central African Republic.” African Affairs 107(427): 225-241.

Uppsala Conflict Data Program. “Forces of Francois Bozize.”