UN eases arms embargo on Central African Republic

Central African Republic

UN peacekeepers from Gabon patrolling Central African Republic town of Bria 

Council unanimously approved the easing of an arms embargo on the
Central African Republic for the first time since 2013 when it was engulfed
in violence.

Drafted by France, the resolution authorizes the country’s security forces
to be supplied with weapons of a caliber of 14.5 mm or less provided that the UN has been notified at least 20 days in advance.

The notifications must specify the type, caliber, quantity and serial or
lot numbers of the weapons as well as the manufacturer and supplier.

Under no circumstances can the weapons be sold or transferred to third
parties, according to the resolution.

“This resolution will allow for… CAR to take care of their own security,”
France’s ambassador to the UN Nicolas de Riviere told reporters. “France will continue to encourage the authorities of CAR to do their own job in terms of implementing the peace process.”

Russia, which has already made two deliveries of weapons to the Central
African Republic and provides it with “military and technical assistance
without financial compensation,” plans to continue “in the future to provide support” to this country, Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told the Security Council.

“The Central African authorities expect more from the Security Council,
including a new easing of the arms embargo,” he added. “We think they have every reason to expect this.”

He said a further relaxation of the embargo could be discussed at a meeting
planned for January.

Ivory Coast Ambassador Kacou Adom, speaking on behalf of South Africa and Equatorial Guinea as well, said the resolution will allow the government “to effectively protect its people and defend its territorial integrity, which for so long has been jeopardized by the increasing level of attacks from armed groups.”

Adom said that “sanctions still have a role to play in supporting the political process,” noting that “the CAR peace deal faces a difficult moment as the government prepares to go for the 2020-2021 electoral process.”

The three African nations on the Security Council view the peace agreement as “the best means of establishing a normal life in the country,” Adom said.

New U.S. Ambassador Kelly Craft, in her first appearance at the council after presenting her credentials earlier in the day, urged the region to end arms trafficking “that undermines the Central African Republic’s national security.”

“The irresponsible flooding of arms into a desperately poor and divided country would only increase the likelihood of a return to widespread bloodshed and violence,” she said. “This is not what anyone wants.”

She said the U.S. will continue its bilateral support to help Central African Republic authorities achieve the U.N. benchmarks and will work with others to support implementation of the Feb. 6 peace agreement.

The Central African Republic, a country of 4.5 million people, plunged into
violence and chaos in 2013 after President Francois Bozize was ousted from
power by Seleka rebels.

The state controls only a small part of national territory, as armed groups
fight in the provinces over resources like diamonds, gold or livestock.

Since 2013, the United Nations has enforced a total arms embargo, except
for exemptions approved in 2017 with French and Russian backing to equip
newly formed army units.

The UN has 13,000 peacekeepers deployed in the Central African Republic.

In February, the government reached a peace agreement with 14 armed groups that led to the formation of a new government that includes representatives of the groups. — NNN-AGENCIES