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Jean-Jacques Démafouth (born November 3, 1959 in Bangui) is a political leader in the Central African Republic. He is a former Defense Minister, Presidential candidate, and is the current political leader of the APRD rebel group. He led the peace delegation of the APRD to talks with the government in December 2008.
Démafouth was Defense Minister under President Ange-Felix Patasse. When a coup attempt against Patasse failed in May 2001, Démafouth was arrested for conspiracy. After a long trial against 680 defendants, Démafouth was among the 49 acquitted in October 2002 by a CAR judge for lack evidence. Démafouth fled to France, where he remained in exile for six years. During this period, the government of President François Bozizé named Démafouth as a suspect in the murder of five aides to former president, André Kolingba, himself charged in absentia with the 2001 coup attempt.
Démafouth enrolled from exile as an Independent, as one of a dozen candidates in the 13 March 2005 Presidential Elections. On 30 December 2004, the transitional constitutional court ruled that Démafouth and six other candidates would be excluded from running for various reasons. In rejecting the candidacy of Jean-Jacques Démafouth, it said that there was a conflict between the date of birth given on his birth certificate (October 3, 1950) and that given in his declaration of candidacy and criminal record (October 3, 1959). The other candidates who were rejected were Ange-Félix Patassé, Martin Ziguélé, Jean-Paul Ngoupandé, Charles Massi, Olivier Gabirault, and Pasteur Josué Binoua. Later, however, Démafouth was allowed to stand. He received 11,279 votes, or 1.27%, in the first round.
Leader of the APRD
In 2008 Démafouth was elected President of the CAR rebel group People's Army for the Restoration of Democracy (APRD). Démafouth reported that he did not seek the post, and only accepted it as a civilian leader on the condition that "the APRD must agree to an inclusive political dialogue and sign a peace accord with the Bangui authorities." President Bozizé had proposed this "inclusive dialogue" process on 8 October 2007.
2008 peace talks
After extensive negotiation, Démafouth returned to the CAR in December 2008 to lead the APRD delegation to President Bozizé's Inclusive Political Dialogue (IPD). He was joined by APRD spokesman Bienvenue Dokoto, and APRD military leader Colonel Lakoye Maradas. The IPD was meant to the start of a peace and reconciliation process between rebel groups, oppositions parties, civil society, and the government. Participants in this 12-day conference included Former President Patassé, a civilian opposition umbrella called the United Stakeholders Force (UFVN), the Democratic Front for the central African people (FDPC) rebels, and the Central African Liberation Movement for Justice (MLCJ) rebels. Planned for several months, the APRD and others had walked out of planning for the IPD in October 2008 over concerns about proposed amnesty laws. An agreement on the IPD was finally reached with the mediation of Gabonese President Omar Bongo. The December meetings agreed a plan to form a multi-party government of national unity and to prepare for elections in 2010, along with a nationwide "truth and reconciliation" commission.
On 30 December 2009, Démafouth represented the APRD at a reconciliation ceremony in Paoua, Ouham-Pendé, CAR. Démafouth addressed government, rebel, NGO, and civil society leaders and "asked for forgiveness from the population of the city and announced that all the barriers erected by the APRD would be lifted" allowing free travel from the north to the south of the country.
- CAR Defense Minister Arrested. BBC. 26 August 2001.
- CAR ex-minister acquitted in coup trial. BBC 7 October 2002.
- CAR Human Rights Report Summary 2003. Covering events from January to December 2002. Amnesty International.
- "Présidentielle en RCA: seuls cinq candidats admis à se présenter", AFP, December 30, 2004 (French).
- "La Rédaction/Centrafrique Presse", TchadForum, January 8, 2005 (French).
- African Elections Database, Summary of the 13 March and 8 May 2005 Central African Republic presidential election.
- Ex-defence minister claims to lead Central African rebels. Agence France-Presse (AFP). 28 Mar 2008.
- Popular Army for the Restoration of the Republic and Democracy (APRD) Armée populaire pour la restauration de la démocratie. Transnational and Non-State Armed Groups(2008), retrieved 2009-01-21.
- PRESIDENT BONGO OF GABON TO DECIDE FOR CAR PROTAGONISTS. Julien Dreshengba, AfricaNews, Bangui. 30 October 2008.
- Central African Republic: News bulletin No. 90, 15 Dec 2008 – 05 Jan 2009. Humanitarian and Development Partnership Team – Central African Republic (HDPT CAR). 05 Jan 2009
- Site Officiel de Maître Jean-Jacques DEMAFOUTH. Candidat à l'élection présidentielle en Centrafrique du 13 Mars 2005 (retrieved 2009-01-21)