Africa

UN weighs plan to support deploying C. Africa army

The UN Security Council is weighing a plan that would see UN peacekeepers in the Central African Republic offer support to newly-trained national troops as they deploy across the strife-scarred country.

UN peacekeepers in the Central African Republic may be asked to support newly-trained national troops as they deploy to far-flung areas of the country that has been struggling to return to stability since a 2013 coup
UN peacekeepers in the Central African Republic may be asked to support newly-trained national troops as they deploy to far-flung areas of the country that has been struggling to return to stability since a 2013 coup (AFP)

The UN Security Council is weighing a plan that would see UN peacekeepers in the Central African Republic offer support to newly-trained national troops as they deploy across the strife-scarred country.

A French-drafted resolution would authorize the MINUSCA mission to "provide limited logistical support" for troops that have been trained by the European Union, according to the text seen by AFP on Wednesday.

The proposal is raising eyebrows, in particular from the United States, which is seeking to streamline peacekeeping operations to reduce costs and make them more effective, diplomats said.

The council will vote on the draft resolution next week.

The European Union has trained more than 3,000 men and women to serve in the Central African Armed Forces while Russia and France have provided them with weapons and other military equipment, with UN approval.

The train-and-equip program is intended to help the Central African Republic recover from the bloodletting that exploded in 2013 after the ouster of leader Francois Bozize, a Christian, by mainly Muslim Seleka rebels.

The current president, Faustin-Archange Touadera, controls only a fraction of the country, most of which is overrun by militants who claim to protect either the Christian or Muslim communities.

The council will vote on backing the "rapid extension of state authority over the entire territory" by supporting the deployment of the vetted and trained troops in areas outside of Bangui.

The draft resolution also takes aim at recent Russian efforts to broker peace deals in CAR by specifying that an African-led initiative is "the only framework" for a solution.

Working with Sudan, Russia in August convened talks in Khartoum of Central African militias who signed a preliminary agreement, drawing criticism from France of unhelpful meddling.

To step up diplomatic efforts, the United Nations and the African Union plan to appoint a joint special envoy while UN envoy Parfait Onanga-Anyanga will become part of the AU panel leading the peace effort.

The draft resolution extends the MINUSCA mission until November 2019 and maintains a ceiling of 11,650 military personnel. Last year, the council added 900 extra troops to the mission as violence raged on.

MINUSCA is the UN's fourth largest mission, after the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Mali.