Central African Republic Trade Halted as Cameroon Closes Border

Dozens of trucks are stranded at the Central African Republic’s border with Cameroon after the neighboring country closed checkpoints at the boundary, a Central African Republic government official said.

The frontier was shut after a Central African Republic soldier killed a Cameroonian policeman in an altercation on Aug. 19, Samuel Dieudonné Ivaha Diboua, governor of Cameroon’s East Region, said in a phone interview yesterday. Vehicles are unable to travel between the two countries, said Aliou Bab Nani, mayor of the Central African Republic-town of Bebrerati.

“The border is closed with a large chain and nobody can pass on foot or by bike or by car,” Nani said in a phone interview. “All trucks are stranded on both sides.”

Landlocked Central African Republic relies on the Cameroonian port of Douala for 80 percent of its imports, according to the World Trade Organization. Goods are ferried along a 1,500-kilometer (932-mile) road that links the harbor to the Central African Republic’s capital, Bangui.

Exports from the country, more 60 percent of which are industrial diamonds, totaled $191.4 million in 2011 compared with $141.7 million a year earlier, according to a WTO report published last month. Imports totaled $305.6 million, little changed from 2010.

Central African Republic has been ruled by a group of rebel forces known as Seleka since it overthrew former President Francois Bozize in March. The coup has led to “widespread insecurity, arbitrary detentions, summary executions,” the African Union said in a statement today.

Regional Threat

The collapse of stability in the country threatens other nations in the region, the United Nations said last week.

“Cameroon is not at war with the Central African Republic,” Diboua said. “The closure of the border is a temporary measure to ease tension and ensure that the culprit involved in the act is sanctioned accordingly.”

The Central African Republic, with a population of 4.5 million people and a $3.6 billion economy, shares borders with Cameroon to the west, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Congo Republic to its south, Sudan and South Sudan to the east and Chad to the north.

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