France Sending Troops to Central African Republic

Since being taken over by Séléka rebels, the Central African Republic has slid into chaos. Photo: hdtpcar for Wikimedia Commons.

Since succumbing  to Séléka rebel rule, the Central African Republic has slid into chaos. Photo: hdtpcar for Wikimedia Commons.

Earlier this week, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced a plan to act in the Central African Republic, increasing French troops stationed in the capital city of Bangui. From now until the end of the year, up to 800 reinforcements will join the 410 French soldiers already stationed at the Bangui airport.

Fabius, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, said that reconstructing the country is the main concern. Since the rebels of the Séléka, an alliance of militias opposing former President François Bozizé, chased him out of power in March, the Central African Republic has been sinking deeper into chaos every day.

The acting president, Michel Djotodia, was a leader in Séléka. Since his arrival to power, he has suspended the Constitution, dissolved the National Assembly, and declared a “period of consensual transition” of three years. Yet even this man, who was once a strong leader of the rebellion, found himself quickly ignored by his own combatants who were more inclined to obey local warlords.

Armed, uncontrolled gangs terrorize region, and the humanitarian crisis is worsening. Taking advantage of the power vacuum created by the country’s political collapse, armed groups flock to the region, causing a state of anarchy.

Among them are the jihadists who were chased from northern Mali by the French soldiers this spring, finding refuge in this turbulent country. Proud of the success of Operation Serval in Mali, France cannot risk watching another former colony become a hideout for terrorist movements.

At France’s request, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted an initial resolution on October 10. The resolution concerns, for the moment, the support of the African Union’s efforts to stabilize the country.

The peacekeeping mandate MISCA, “Mission international de soutien à la Centrafrique,” was declared on August 2 of this year, with the objective of replacing the MICOPAX, or the Mission for the Consolidation of Peace in the Central African Republic. The mission’s 2,500-strong African contingent, made up of Congolese, Cameroonian, Gabonese, and Chadian soldiers, will be joined by international forces, bringing the force’s manpower to 3,600.

The African Union’s troops are not always seasoned soldiers, meaning the French soldiers will once again be needed on the front lines. This mission, however, is expected to be shorter and easier than the Mali intervention.

A second resolution should allow, in the next month, to give the green light to a French-driven pan-African effort to help the Central African Republic’s provisional government re-establish order in the country, and to dissolve the Séléka.

In the event of the mission’s failure, the UN text foresees the eventual deployment of UN forces before the spring of 2014.

Researcher Roland Marchal of the French National Center for Scientific Research considers the response to be far too late. He remarked that “the Central African Republic is ignored by the whole world, while terrible and unacceptable things go on there.”

Independent since 1960, the Republic is one of the poorest, least-developed countries in the world.

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  1. […] success in Mali primed France for another intervention in another former African colony. The Central African Republic (CAR), which was formerly a part of […]

  2. […] success in Mali primed France for another intervention in another former African colony. The Central African Republic (CAR), which was formerly a part of […]

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