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UN fine-tunes Central Africa mission ahead of French pullout

Pacome Pabandji

The UN Security Council Tuesday voted to task peacekeepers in the Central African Republic with supporting the newly elected government just as France prepares to end its military mission in the country.

The council unanimously adopted a French-drafted resolution that extends the mission known as MINUSCA until November 15, 2017 and maintains the ceiling of 10,750 troops and 2,080 police.

The resolution expressed support for President Faustin-Archange Touadera who took office in March and said the protection of civilians remained a priority task for MINUSCA.

“Now that the transition has been successfully completed, we must now successfully complete the stabilization” of the country, French Ambassador Francois Delattre told the council.

France earlier this month announced the pullout of the last 350 remaining soldiers from the Sangaris force, which was sent to the Central African Republic in December 2013 to quell violence.

The mission, which involved nearly 2,500 French troops at its peak, is due to end entirely in October.

Council members noted that the security situation is improving but remains fragile as armed militias continue attacks and national security forces are too weak to confront them.

Earlier this month, Touadera marked his first 100 days since his election by declaring that entire regions of the country remained under the control of rebel groups and that “the country is in danger.”

The resolution said MINUSCA must “support the rapid extension of state authority over the entire territory of the CAR” to secure main supply routes and help police redeploy to more remote areas.

It welcomed steps to enforce zero-tolerance of sexual abuse and exploitation by peacekeepers, following a wave of allegations against MINUSCA troops and police.

UN peacekeepers will be tasked with promoting human rights and helping ensure deliveries of humanitarian aid.

MINUSCA will support the new government’s efforts to disarm the militias and reintegrate some of the fighters into the security and defense forces.

Delattre said the United Nations must ensure that MINUSCA has the proper equipment and technology to fulfill its mandate.

The resolution was drafted under Chapter Seven of the UN charter, which allows for the use of force and sanctions to enforce its provisions.

The Central African Republic descended into bloodshed between Christian and Muslim militias following a coup in March 2013 that ousted long-time leader Francois Bozize.

Thousands have died in the violence and more than 418,000 people remain displaced within the country. More than 480,000 refugees, a large number of whom are Muslim, have fled to neighboring countries.

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