CAR:Pressure On UN To Lift Arms Embargo

The measure, in place since December 2013, is due to expire on January 31, 2019.

The Central African Republic, CAR, has been beset by civil strife since March 24, 2013 when President François Bozizé was overthrown by Séléka rebels. Though democratically-elected President Faustin-Archange Touadéra came to power in March 2016, rebels now control about 80 per cent of the country. Nevertheless, some 14 rebel groups and the CAR government are currently holding peace talks in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum.

The United Nations Security Council on December 5, 2013 imposed an arms embargo on CAR, which it has renewed each year ever since. The current embargo expires on January 31, 2019. Recent government efforts, backed by partners, have seen the training of a number of army battalions to gradually regain control of the country. But they are poorly equipped to effectively carry out their tasks.

In a bid to pressure the UN Security Council not to renew the embargo when it expires this week, a number of CAR civil society and other groups over the weekend in the capital, Bangui, held protests demanding the non-renewal of the arms embargo. “No to renewal of arms embargo. Doing so will be sending wolf after people!” Radio Ndeke Luka cited Brigitte Andara, Mayor of Bangui Fourth Council, as saying.

The country’s bishops have also called on the United Nations to lift the embargo imposed on the supply of arms, military equipment and related assistance to non-state actors. Though it allows for the supply of arms to CAR security forces, this is subject to initial approval by the sanctions committee established by the resolution.

The bishops said since armed groups continue to procure arms illegally, the only effect of the embargo is that the army has been substantially weakened. “With the election of a new leadership in 2016, the CAR came back to constitutional order,” the bishops noted on January 13, 2019 at the end of their plenary assembly. “While the country cannot procure arms for its own defence, armed groups are getting supplies in war equipment to the knowledge of all. Under these conditions, does the embargo on arms not favour armed groups which continue to inflict terror, desolation and defy state authority? How can defence and security forces be trained without supplying them with the necessary arms,” questioned a report submitted to the UN Security Council earlier this year.

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