Chad hands over leader of anti-Balaka rebel group to the ICC

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The Republic of Chad on Monday handed over the leader of an anti-balaka armed group, Maxime Mokom, to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on suspicion of war crimes and crimes against humanity, the Hague court confirmed on Monday.

Mokom is suspected of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Bangui and other locations in the Central African Republic in 2013 and 2014, the ICC said in a statement.

The country was plunged into its worst crisis since independence after longtime Christian leader Francois Bozize was ousted by rebels from the Seleka force in March 2013, triggering a wave of violence with "anti-balaka" militias.

The CAR is one of the world's economically disadvantaged countries despite its rich natural resources, with a history of unrest since independence from France, including the despotic rule of self-proclaimed emperor Jean-Bedel Bokassa in the 1960s and 1970s.

Despite a 2019 peace deal, militia groups that emerged during the conflict were recently in control of around two-thirds of the country, and Touadera depends heavily on UN forces, as well as military personnel sent by Russia and Rwanda.

A counter-offensive has seen pro-government forces retake a series of towns from the rebels in recent days.

Touadera won a presidential election in December from which Bozize was banned but barely a third of the potential ballots were cast.

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