The United Nations Security Council took a step towards relaxing the arms embargo imposed on the Central African Republic (CAR), granting permission for weaponry to be supplied to government forces. However, despite this decision, the CAR government expressed its dissatisfaction, branding the move an “affront.”
The Security Council acknowledged that the situation within the country “continues to constitute a threat to international peace and security in the region.” In recognition of this, the arms embargo that has been in place since the civil war in 2013 was extended until July 31, 2024.
This extension does come with a notable alteration: the embargo will no longer encompass the “supply, sale, or transfer of arms and related materiel and the provision of assistance, advice, and training to the CAR security forces.”
The resolution secured a majority, with 13 votes in favor, while Russia and China chose to abstain. The primary concern underpinning this move was the illicit arms trafficking that fuels the operations of various armed groups within the country.
While the CAR government sought a complete lifting of the embargo, the adopted resolution fell short of their expectations, prompting Foreign Minister Sylvie Baipo Temon to brand it an “affront.” She accused the Security Council of drawing an inaccurate “amalgam” between her country and the armed factions. Expressing her gratitude for Russia and China’s abstention, Temon indicated her displeasure with the outcome.
Russian Deputy UN Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy explained Russia’s position, emphasizing that the past ten years have proven the ineffectiveness of the embargo in preventing armed groups from procuring weapons. He further contended that given the CAR’s current circumstances, the Security Council should have opted to remove all forms of sanctions, enabling the sovereign state to stabilize itself and ensure its own national security.
Despite Russia’s criticism, it did not exercise its veto power to block the resolution. The text also includes a condemnation of “the use of mercenaries and violations of international humanitarian law and human rights violations and abuses perpetrated by them,” although no specific entities were named. The paramilitary group Wagner, linked to Russia, has previously faced allegations of rights violations within the CAR.
Furthermore, the resolution extends a range of sanctions for another year, including asset freezes and travel bans targeting around 15 individuals, including former president Francois Bozize. The Central African Republic, one of the world’s most impoverished nations, has grappled with a devastating civil war since 2013, sparked by the ousting of then-president Bozize by the Seleka rebel coalition, predominantly composed of the Muslim minority. This coup ignited a harrowing sectarian conflict between the Seleka and rival forces known as the anti-Balaka.
Earlier in 2018, a request for the easing of the arms sanctions imposed on the Central African Republic (CAR) by the UN Security Council for the country to receive donated weapons from China was denied.
Nevertheless, barely few months later, the Central African Republic from receiving donated ammunition from China, the country’s armed forces took delivery of over 120 assorted vehicles donated by the United States and China.
More recently, the French Government suspended aid of 10 million euros ($12.18 million) and military cooperation in Central African Republic – its former colony.
The French military also explained that it will no longer cooperate with Central African Republic’s military.