CAR holds military intervention record

2017-10-22 16:15


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Bangui - The Central African Republic, where UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres will Tuesday pay his first visit to a peacekeeping operation, holds the record for international interventions on its soil.

During a history of chronic political instability and sporadic social upheaval, the country has been the focus of more than a dozen international military interventions.

Given a plethora of acronyms, the interventions took place under many different flags: the United Nations, the European Union, the African Union and regional African organisations, and also France, the CAR's former colonial power.

UN missions

After the arrival in power of Ange-Felix Patasse in 1993, the landlocked nation fell into a state of almost permanent unrest, with 1996-1997 marked by a string of army mutinies. Strikes over unpaid wages were also common.

The Bangui accords of 1997 were intended to calm the situation, and set up Misab, a coalition of African countries working under a UN mandate to ensure respect of the accords. The mission was largely unsuccessful.

Misab was replaced by a string of UN missions, but the country fell into a quagmire, with bloody purges in the army, a failed coup attempt in 2001 and numerous acts of violence by the army.

Regional interventions

In parallel, regional organisations created their own missions in a bid to keep and consolidate peace, but these also fell short of their goal.

The organisations included the Community of Sahel and Saharan States in 2001-2002, Central Africa's economic and monetary community in 2002-2008, and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) from 2008-2013.

Peacekeeping operations in neighbouring countries were also extended to the Central African Republic, with the goal of combatting Chadian and Sudanese rebels operating from its soil.

In December 2013, months after Francois Bozize was overthrown by mostly Muslim rebels, sparking the bloodiest sectarian violence in the country's history, an African force - Misca - was placed under the African Union banner.

Misca numbered some 6,000 soldiers in Bangui and the provinces, but most were integrated in 2014 into a new UN force, Minusca.

France and Europe

Between 2013 and 2016 Paris, acting under a UN mandate, sent in troops to stop massacres by the Muslim Seleka rebels.

Some 2,000 French soldiers were deployed in support of the African and UN forces, stabilising the situation, but never controlling the entire country.

Several of the French soldiers were accused of raping children, but in March 2017 the Paris prosecutor demanded the accusations be thrown out after a probe.

A European Union force, Eufor-RCA, then intervened in Bangui in February 2014-March 2015, comprising 700 troops at the height of its deployment. Brussels then sent European advisers to train the Central African army in Bangui.

Separately, Ugandan and American troops, who had for years hunted down in vain Joseph Kony, head of one of the most deadly rebellions in the world, the Lord's Resistance Army, began their withdrawal in April 2017.

UN force to be extended 

The UN took over from the African Union's Misca on September 15, 2014, creating Minusca. It has often been criticised by Central African authorities for its lack of reactivity.

Its mandate expires on November 15, 2017, but is expected to be renewed.

In a report to the Security Council on October 17 Guterres recommended reinforcing the force with 900 peacekeepers. It is currently just over 10 000-strong.

Central African President Faustin-Archange Touadera told the UN General Assembly in September that several thousand extra troops were needed.

Minusca peacekeepers have on several occasions been accused of sex crimes, resulting in several hundred of them being sent home.

Read more on:    un  |  central african republic  |  central africa

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