Tag Archives: CAR

CAR: France suspends Military cooperation

Paris suspended its military cooperation and budgetary aid to the Central African government, terming the Central African Republic (CAR) “complicit” in an anti-French campaign. (Image: illustration)

The French military ministry said that it considered the Central African state as “complicit” in a Russian-led anti-French campaign.

“On several occasions, the Central African authorities have made commitments that they have not kept, both politically towards the opposition and in terms of their behaviour
towards France, which is the target of a massive disinformation campaign in CAR,” Paris said.

“The Russians are not to blame, but the Central Africans are at best accomplices in this campaign,” it added.

In April, five French military aid workers who were posted to the Central African Defence Ministry were recalled to Paris. The military training provided to the Central African Armed Forces (Faca) by troops stationed in Gabon has also been suspended, the ministry stated, confirming information from the French news website Mediapart.

France, a former colonial power, continues to contribute around 100 soldiers to the European mission EUTM-RCA, which mobilizes nearly 200 soldiers to train the FACA.

Ten of the soldiers do participate in the UN peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (Minusca), which has 12,000 blue helmets in the region.

When prompted by AFP on the budgetary restrictions imposed, the French Foreign Ministry however did not reveal any figure.

France, which intervened from 2013 to 2016 through Operation Sangaris to stop the violence, handed over some 1,400 assault rifles to the Faca in December 2018 after obtaining an exemption to the UN embargo.

A few months earlier, Russia had made a remarkable entry into this former French “pré carré” by delivering arms to the Faca at the beginning of 2018 and by installing a contingent of military instructors.

Last December, reportedly Russia urgently dispatched hundreds of paramilitaries to the aid of President Faustin Archange Touadéra’s army, threatened by a rebellion.

Numerous witnesses and NGOs claim that these paramilitaries are fighters from the Russian private security group Wagner, which Moscow continues to deny.

BANGUI: AU denies press reports allegations

Brussels 09.06.2021 The representative of the African Union denied information that a joint delegation of the AU, the European Union and the Economic Community of Central African Countries (ECCAS) came to the Central African Republic to persuade the head of state to start negotiations with the militants.

The Central African Republic is preparing for a nationwide dialogue, in which political and public leaders of the country will take part. In preparation for the event, President Faustin-Archange Touadéra held a series of consultations with representatives of various sectors of society.

At the same time, the head of the CAR absolutely unequivocally stated that negotiations with those who raised their hand against the civilian population are impossible. H.E. President Touadera’s position met with the approval of regular citizens, but the West has repeatedly sounded calls to establish communication with the leaders of criminal gangs.

Dialogue with such a person is simply impossible, as stated by the African Union Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Bancol Adoye, underlining that the AU calls on the media and politicians to refrain from propaganda of incitement to hatred and disinformation.

“We did not even mention former President Bozize and did not agree on him with Touadera. We called on all parties concerned to strongly condemn those who took up arms to seize state power. Our task is to promote peace in the CAR,” said the representative of the African Union.

Thus, the joint delegation of the EU, AU and ECCAS regards Jeune Afrique’s article as disinformation published in the interests of the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC). The CPC was formed by six rebel groups on December 15, 2020, with the aim to disrupt the country’s elections and oust President Faustin-Archange Touadera.

CAR: UN accuses Russians

Brussels 05.05.2021 In the Central African Republic, the brutal methods of the Russian “instructors” who fight alongside the Central African army are giving rise to growing fear and concern. On March 31, the United Nations Working Group on Mercenaries warned of a long series of serious human rights violations attributed to them. RFI had access to many confidential documents and collected words from victims. Investigation.

In Bangui, the presence of Russian mercenaries and the abuses of which they are accused are subjects of which one speaks in low voices, in private, and in anonymity.
“It’s the elephant in the middle of the room,” said a diplomatic source. “We only see him, but we pretend he’s not there.” Officially, they are not here. The Russian narrative on the subject is extremely well established. The Russian ambassador in Bangui acknowledges the dispatch of 535 men whom he describes as “instructors” who “do not take part in the fighting” except “if they are targeted.”

However, many national and international security sources contradict this version. They mention 800 to 2,000 mercenaries deployed in the CAR, alongside the Central African armed forces, often “on the front line” during clashes and also present at checkpoints and strategic locations.
For part of the public, weary of the occupation and violence of armed groups, the Russians are Saviours. They played a decisive role in the counter-offensive which made it possible to retake most of the country’s major cities. Their action is also supported by an active communication campaign from the authorities. Few dissenting voices publicly dare to question their methods, in the climate of fear that has taken hold in certain regions of the country.

On March 31, for the first time, a group of independent experts came to break this silence. In a press release, the UN Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries attached to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, denounces the increased use of private security companies by the authorities in Bangui. And alert on a long list of abuses which are “attributable” to them: “mass summary executions, arbitrary detentions, torture during interrogations, enforced disappearances, forced displacement of civilians, indiscriminate targeting of civilian installations, violations of the right to health and growing attacks on humanitarian actors.”

Three Russian entities are cited in this press release: the “Wagner Group”, considered to be the private armed wing of Moscow, some of whose fighters have recently come under charges for a possible war crime in Syria; “Sewa Security Services”, a company incorporated under Central African law founded in Bangui in 2017 and considered as the subsidiary of Wagner in the country; and finally “Lobaye Invest SARLU”, a mining company founded in the Central African Republic in 2017, one of whose officials has been placed under sanctions by the United States. The Task Force says it has gathered evidence of their “involvement in a series of violent attacks” in the Central African Republic since last December.

Several internal United Nations reports that RFI has consulted support these accusations. One of them lists at least a hundred victims of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed either by the Faca and their Russian allies or by Russian elements alone, between January 1, 2021 and mid-January. April. Among these violations: 26 extrajudicial executions, 5 rapes as well as 27 cases of arbitrary arrests and deprivation of liberty.

“Many civilians have been killed or injured (…) although they are very far from legitimate military targets,” the report concludes.

Among the most affected prefectures: that of Ouaka, north-east of Bangui. Fo two months, Bambari, capital of this prefecture, located 370 kilometers from the capital.

ICC: Uganda Ongwen-victim and villain

04.02.2021 The Hague, The Netherlands: War crimes judges deliver their verdict in the case of Dominic Ongwen, a Ugandan child soldier turned top field commander in the Lord’s Resistance Army, a rebel group known for extreme violence and forcing women into sexual slavery.

Ongwen, 45, faces 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity and could be imprisoned for life if convicted. Judges will not address sentencing on Thursday, February 4.

Ongwen’s case is complex because under the law “you have either a victim or a perpetrator and anything in between is very difficult to squeeze in,” said Barbora Hola, senior researcher at the Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement.

The ruling at the International Criminal Court (ICC) will be the first dealing with crimes by the LRA, New York-based Human Rights Watch said.

It highlights the difficulty of trying somebody who, as a conscripted child soldier, is both an alleged perpetrator and a victim. His lawyers have asked for acquittal.

Detained in 2015, Ongwen remains in the court’s custody, and his 3.5-year-trial ended in March 2020.

Ongwen’s lawyer insisted that the brutal life in the LRA affected his mental health and his capacity to make independent decisions.

“When Ongwen was abducted he had no option, he was made a slave. That slavery continued until he left the bush,” lawyer Krispus Odongo said to the judges in closing arguments.

But prosecutors countered that Ongwen was an adult at the time of the alleged offences and cannot be excused of responsibility.

Led by fugitive warlord Joseph Kony, the LRA terrorized Ugandans for nearly two decades as it battled the government of President Yoweri Museveni from bases in the north of the country and in what is now South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic.

The case at the ICC focused on 2002-2005, when prosecutors said members of the LRA carried out crimes including murder, rape, sexual slavery, forced marriage, torture, pillaging and the conscription of children under the age of 15 for fighting.

After being abducted by the LRA as a boy, Ongwen worked his way up to a commander, overseeing the Sinia Brigade, one of the group’s four main operational units with up to 800 fighters.

Borrell: CAR consolidation for peace

Brussels 27.12.2020 The Central African Republic elections are a crucial step for the “consolidation of democracy and peace”, the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell wrote in his Twitter micro blog. He called for the “mobilization of voters and the responsibility of all actors for credible, transparent, inclusive and peaceful elections”, especially mentioning the European Union – African Union ties in support of the democratic transition.

Meanwhile the former Central African Republic president Francois Bozize (pictured) backs the rebels, and urges people against voting in presidential and legislative elections today, AFP Africa reports.

Francois Bozize, president of the Central African Republic from 2003 to 2013 and a participant in two previous attempted coups d’etat, returned from exile in 2019 to run for his old job. In December, just three weeks ahead of the election, Bozize was barred by the Constitutional Court from running again. The court ruled that he had failed to meet the “good morality” requirement for candidates because of an international warrant for his arrest and UN sanctions on charges of assassination and torture. He has since been accused of plotting a new coup.

Despite a series of attacks in the run-up to the Central African Republic’s presidential and legislative elections — the first since a fragile peace deal was reached between the government and rebels in February 2019 — as well as threats against the centers where voter cards are distributed, the possibility of assaults on polling places and the killings of three UN peacekeepers on Saturday, the national elections authority, ANE, has reported that the vote will go on.

Despite threats against voting offices and polling places, the Central African Republic’s election authority has said Sunday’s, December 27, vote will go ahead. According to press reports Mankeur Ndiaye, the UN’s special envoy for CAR said the situation was under the control of the UN Blue Helmets, together with the Central African armed forces and the Central African domestic security forces, such as gendarmes and police. They were on the scene to react to any attacks or strategies of harassment by certain armed groups in alliance with Francois Bozize, the goal of which was to obstruct the election process by preventing Central African citizens from receiving their voting cards and going to polling places on December 27.

“We face attacks every day, but our response has been overwhelming” Mankeur Ndiaye concluded.

CAR: Touadéra joins election

The President of the Central African Republic (CAR), Faustin-Archange Touadéra, announced his candidacy for the presidential election scheduled for December 27 on Saturday September 26.

“It’s a heavy responsibility. A very heavy responsibility. I accept to be your candidate ”, declared the Head of State, elected in February 2016 and whose candidacy is not a surprise, in front of the members of his party, the United Hearts Movement (MCU), gathered in congress in the capital Bangui.

More than 7 years after the coup d’état of a coalition of armed groups with a Muslim majority, the Seleka, which overthrew President François Bozizé in 2013, the first round of the presidential and legislative elections is scheduled for December 27, but uncertainty prevails today as to the possibility of holding them within this timeline, as significant delays have arisen in their organisation, in particular the registration of voters.

EU launches CAR advisory mission

The Council today adopted a decision launching the European Union CSDP (Common Security and Defence Policy) civilian advisory mission in the Central African Republic (EUAM RCA).

The mission was initially established on 9 December 2019, with Council Decision (CFSP) 2019/2110. Following the achievement of Initial Operational Capability, the mission will now become operational on 9 August for an initial period of two years.

Under the authority of the EU head of mission, Mr Paulo Soares, the objective of the mission will be to support the reform of the internal security forces to enable the local authorities to mitigate the current security challenges in the country. EU experts will support the Ministry of the Interior and the internal security forces, the police and the gendarmerie, with the aim of helping in their deployment throughout the country.

The mission coordinates closely with the UN MINUSCA mission and the international community, as well as the other CSDP mission present in the country: EUTM RCA.

The Council today also decided that the mandate of EUTM RCA will be extended for a further two years until 19 September 2022. The decision follows the Strategic Review of the Mission.

EUTM RCA is a military training mission launched by the EU in 2016 to provide strategic advice to the Central African Republic’s political and military authorities, as well as education and training to its armed forces.

Image above: social media.

COVID19: EU aid to Central African Republic

Janez Lenarčič, Commissioner for Crisis Management, is travelling today to Bangui on the first flight and will meet H.E. Faustin-Archange Touadéra, President of the Central African Republic, as well as humanitarian organisations.

The European Commission has set up an EU Humanitarian Air Bridge to transport humanitarian workers and emergency supplies for the coronavirus response to some of most critical areas around the world.

“Leaving any area of the world unprotected today leaves us all unprotected tomorrow. As part of our global response, the EU will open a dedicated Humanitarian Air Bridge to get aid into areas which lack supplies due to the difficulties of global transit. This can be a lifeline for some of the most vulnerable communities worldwide” Commissioner Janez Lenarčič said.

The first EU flight, operated in cooperation with France, is departing from Lyon airport and will transport around 60 humanitarian workers from various NGOs and 13 tonnes of humanitarian cargo. Two subsequent humanitarian cargo flights will follow in the coming days to transport a further 27 tonnes of humanitarian supplies in total. On their return leg, the Air Bridge flights will also bring back EU citizens and other passengers from the Central African Republic in a repatriation effort.

More EU humanitarian flights are being scheduled for the coming weeks, prioritising African countries where the pandemic has the potential to worsen many existing humanitarian crises.

EU diplomacy supports CAR electoral calendar

Only a peaceful, inclusive and transparent electoral process, conducted in accordance with the electoral calendar will guarantee credible and legitimate elections, awaited by the population” said the European External Action Service (EEAS) spokesperson, reacting upon various hypothetical scenarios of postponement of the presidential elections in Central African Republic, originally foreseen the end of December 2020.

The poisson of the European Union diplomacy vis-à-vis elections has been announced after the Minusca (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic) raised concerns about the consequences of the constitutional reform project launched by the Central African Republic president Faustin Archange Touadéra, which would allow him to secure his own interim if the December presidential election is postponed due to COVID-19 pandemic.

While the President Touadéra is preparing to validate a constitutional amendment that would allow him to ensure his own interim in the situation of the postponement of the presidential election in December 2020, the project raises the most serious concerns within the UN.

Reportedly the international experts are warning about the destabilising consequences of such a sifnificant legal project, changing the Constitution of the country, in spite of a considerable political opposition to the initiative.

However validated on April 22 by the President’s office, it will be presented to the Council of Ministers in the nearest future.

Borrell reaffirms EU support to CAR

EU top diplomat Josep Borrell, had a telephone exchange of views with the President of the Central African Republic, Faustin Archange Touadéra, on April 28, 2020.

On this occasion, Borrell reaffirmed the European Union’s support for the Central African Republic, in particular in this phase of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The diplomat confirmed that the European Union will soon organize, in collaboration with France, a humanitarian airlift for the transport of medical equipment necessary for the response to the pandemic. The head of the EU diplomacy also stressed the importance of combating disinformation and stigma linked to the pandemic. The European Union will also remain vigilant against those who are tempted to take advantage of the situation to hamper the stabilization process in the Central African Republic.

In this regard, Borrell reiterated the European Union’s support for the organization of the next presidential and legislative elections scheduled for the end of the year. These elections are an essential step in the process of democratization, reconciliation and peace in the country. European Union financial support for the electoral process already amounts to € 17.5 million.

The diplomat reiterated the need to accelerate the implementation of the Political Peace and Reconciliation Agreement despite the current circumstances. He called for the continuation of the dialogue between all the actors and the respect of the commitments made by the parties. Borrell reiterated the European Union’s resolute commitment to support this process, in close coordination with its partners, in particular the United Nations and the African Union.

The interview reaffirmed the solidity of the partnership between the European Union and the Central African Republic.

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