UN envoy wants transparency over CAR arms imports

iStock
iStock

A top UN envoy called on Thursday for transparency on arms flowing into the Central African Republic from Russia, China or the United States, urging diplomatic "coherence" as Moscow seeks a larger role in the war-torn sub-Saharan country.

In an interview with AFP, Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, the UN special representative for the Central African Republic, whose term expires at the end of the year, said he felt "a measured, but definite hope" for the country, even as armed groups who covet its natural wealth still clash on the ground.

President Faustin-Archange Touadera controls only a fraction of CAR, most of it overrun by militants who claim to protect either the Christian or Muslim communities.

Touadera, addressing the annual UN General Assembly, urged a complete lifting of the arms embargo on the country.

Onanga-Anyanga said that the need for weapons was "undeniable" as the government builds its own armed forces to the tune of 1,300 new troops a year through 2023.

Russia has already received an exemption. "China, but also the United States, have proposed new quantities of weapons," Onanga-Anyanga said. "It's for a good reason."

* Sign up to News24's top Africa news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO THE HELLO AFRICA NEWSLETTER

FOLLOW News24 Africa on Twitter and Facebook

European trainers of Central African troops have themselves backed the increased flow of weapons, he said.

"It's dangerous to have trained men loafing around all day. If they aren't under supervision and put to use, they risk being drawn back to the demons of the past and returning to predation," Onanga-Anyanga said.

He also acknowledged the "need for the clearest transparency." The United Nations has just verified, with the defense ministry and Russia, weapons deliveries by Russia.

He said that the head of the UN sanctions committee would travel on October 2 to Bangui to "examine the needs and make sure that these transactions are in line with the positions of the Security Council."

Risking diplomatic 'cacophony'

Thousands of people have died, 700 000 have been internally displaced and another 570,000 have fled abroad in fighting since 2013, when majority-Muslim militias toppled longtime leader Francois Bozize, a Christian.

Russia, in addition to sending weapons, has proposed mediating with CAR rebel groups in a sign of Moscow's growing post-Cold War ambitions in Africa.

Former colonial ruler France has rejected the Russian initiative, saying that there was "no alternative" to the process led by the African Union.

"There must absolutely be coordination among partners," the envoy said of the political mediation.

"For it to be constructive, everyone needs to have the same vision and approach," he said.

"Solitary, non-coordinated moves could create a real cacophony."

He supported Russia's decision to join as an observer in the African Union mediation mission along with France and the United States.

The UN stabilisation force in Central Africa has 12 000 troops and 2 000 police officers.

Nearly a year ago, the UN Security Council authorised boosting the number by 900 military personnel, although Onanga-Anyanga admitted that the level had not yet been reached.

He said that troops from Rwanda and Nepal had arrived but did not yet have equipment in place.

Since its establishment in 2014, the UN peacekeeping force known by its French acronym Minusca has witnessed the deaths of 70 soldiers.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
When planning for the Black Friday sales do you:
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Save, research and plan ahead, preparing to make the most of it?
8% - 904 votes
Wait and see what looks like a good deal on the day?
14% - 1700 votes
Have no interest in spending more money this year?
78% - 9353 votes
Vote
ZAR/USD
15.21
(+0.94)
ZAR/GBP
20.30
(+0.95)
ZAR/EUR
18.06
(+0.85)
ZAR/AUD
11.17
(+0.39)
ZAR/JPY
0.15
(+1.14)
Gold
1806.13
(-1.63)
Silver
23.26
(-1.04)
Platinum
955.00
(+3.12)
Brent Crude
45.51
(+2.15)
Palladium
2341.00
(+0.52)
All Share
57761.92
(+1.08)
Top 40
53049.43
(+1.09)
Financial 15
11674.99
(+2.97)
Industrial 25
80126.12
(+0.26)
Resource 10
52568.48
(+1.54)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo