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Union of the Democratic Movements for Unity (UMDR)

The Union of the Democratic Movements for Unity (UMDR) is a product of an internal split in the Kara community of the Vakaga and should be noted that it is not a rebel group in the traditional sense but it rather a movement of tribal vengeance fused with local political brinksmanship. The former Mayor of Birao, Ahmed Mustafa, appears to be using a simmering tribal conflict between the Goula and Kara based on revenge killings to gain a political advantage over a fellow Kara, and most recent mayor of Birao, Abdurrahman.

While there is certainly an ethnic flavor to the violence, the direction of the fighting - away from the Goula villages south of Birao and toward to mixed ethnicity city itself - suggests the fighting has more than ethnic score settling behind it. According to several observers, Mustafa and Abdurrahman have been competing for supremacy of the city (which controls the vital link to Sudan through which all goods to the Vakaga pass) for at least a year. Abdurrahman called in members of the UFDR (Union of Democratic Forces for Unity and a majority Goula group) to protect his interests in the city and UMDR attacked those forces as a reaction. Further evidence in support of this thesis is that the Kara communities who support Abdulrahman remain in Birao while those that support Mustafa/UMDR have fled. Thus, while the Kara and the Goula have legitimate grievances against each other, an essentially village against village polemic is being used by Birao politicians to further their political agendas.

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One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias

Page last modified: 30-12-2012 20:15:52 ZULU