After Mali,France Intervenes in Central African Republic to Restore State Authority

Written by | Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

Less than a year after its instrumental intervention in Mali that drove out Jihadists and other Al-Qaeda linked terrorists from the northern parts of the country, France is again sending troops to the Central African Republic to put an end to the escalating sectarian violence riddling the country.
The Security Council last week adopted a resolution authorizing the deployment of French troops in the Central African Republic to assist the International Support Mission, an African Union (AU) peacekeeping force known by its French acronym MISCA, to protect civilians and restore State authority in the strife-torn nation.
Under the resolution, France is “to support, by all necessary measures, the Mission in discharging its mandate,” which consists mainly in helping protect civilians, stabilize the country and restore State authority over the territory, in addition to creating conditions conducive to the provision of humanitarian assistance.
MISCA which was initially due to be made up of 3,500 men will be increased to 6,000.
According to press reports, French troops will remain in Central African Republic as long as it takes to help restore peace and stability. The troops already arrived in the country over the weekend were said to start disarming fighters on Monday and would use force if necessary, as confirmed by French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.
Analysts warn however that the task will not be easy, especially as some fighters have already exchanged their fatigues with civilian attire which will make it difficult to recognize and disarm them.
Central African Republic has plunged into chaos as interim president Michel Djotodia struggled to control Seleka fighters, his former allies who helped him seize power last March. This mainly Muslim group has attacked members of the Christian majority, who set up militias to retaliate.
According to humanitarian organizations, some 400 people have been killed over the past few days in violent inter-communal clashes between the two sides. Without the deployment, the death toll would have been much higher.
In its Resolution, the Security Council decided that, for an initial period of one year, all States should immediately take measures to prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer to the Central African Republic of arms and related materiel, including weapons and ammunition, military vehicles, paramilitary equipment and spare parts related to military activities.  It authorized all States to seize, register and dispose of such prohibited items.
At the level of financing, the Council requested the Secretary-General to establish a trust fund for MISCA, through which Member States and international, regional and sub-regional organizations could provide financial support.
A donors conference is scheduled to be held by the African Union in coordination with the European Union.
Gérard Araud, France’s permanent representative to the UN and Council President for the current month said the European Union has committed €50 million to the stabilization effort and would thus be the first contributor to African Union operations.
On that backdrop, the European Union announced Monday it was stepping up its relief effort and is deploying its humanitarian air service with immediate effect to open up a vital line of support into and out of Bangui.
The first plane (run by ECHO Flight, the EU’s humanitarian air service based in Nairobi), with a capacity of 50 passengers or five tonnes of cargo, is expected in Douala, Cameroon this Tuesday. The jet aircraft will perform daily rotations between Bangui and Douala, establishing a humanitarian air bridge to ferry humanitarian goods and personnel into the country, the EU said in a release.
The EU said it has already doubled humanitarian aid to twenty million euros since the beginning of 2013 but that it is clear that much more funding will be required.
The text also requested the Secretariat to prepare for a possible peacekeeping operation and enhanced action on two essential fronts:  support for the transitional process, with elections to be held by February 2015; and the creation of a Commission of Inquiry, which would present its findings in six months.
Morocco’s Representative to the UN Mohammed Loulichki welcomed the mobilization of the international community and said his country had worked with France to keep the situation in Central African Republic at the forefront. Morocco had friendly relations with the Central African Republic, and had deployed soldiers quickly.  It would support the country on the road to peace and stability, even beyond Morocco’s term on the Security Council, he said.
4.5 million people are affected by the humanitarian crisis and terrorized by the militia in Central African Republic where more than 400,000 people have been displaced while another 69,800 were forced into exile in neighbouring countries.

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