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France to withdraw from CAR

Defence di

The news was announced by the French Defence Minister Jean – Yves Le Drian during his visit in Bangui. Operation Sangaris, launched by France in December 2013 in response to the UN resolution 2127 (5 December 2013), will end in 2016. “We can finally see the country emerging by a long period of trouble and uncertainty”, the minister said. In two years, the mission was able to restore stability in the country, thus fulfilling its objectives. Perhaps this is the reason behind French decision to withdraw its contingents.

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Disorder in CAR began in March 2013, when a Muslim rebel movement, known as Seleka, overthrew the government of the Christian president Francois Bozize, replacing him with their leader Michel Djotodia. The Djotodia government remained in office for 10 months: at that period, the ethnic violence between the Muslim minority and the Christian majority spread out in the country, thus causing the death of thousands of people.

The international community reacted unanimously and approved the above resolution. This resolution not only condemned the spiral of ethnic and religious violence fueled by rebel groups, but also authorized the deployment of MISCA mission (Mission internationale de soutien à la Centrafrique sous conduite africaine). This mission authorized French forces to take all necessary measures -in respect of the mandate- to achieve the three main objectives of the mission: disarmament of armed groups, restoration of civil authority and support in the preparation of the elections.

Begun with 1,600 soldiers, Operation Sangaris had around 2,500 men deployed at its peak. The Djotodia government proved to be unable to keep rebels -who had brought him to power- under control, thus dragging the country into a civil war. The situation improved after the resignation of the President and the appointment of a transitional government led by Catherine Samba-Panza, the first woman president of the country. Improvements in CAR security contest induced the French government to reduce the forces gradually, while continuing supporting the international mission.

Today, France has 900 units deployed in the Central African Republic. Minister Le Drian stressed that 300 soldiers will remain there even after the end of Operation. These troops will support the UN mission MINUSCA (Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic) and will participate in the training mission led by the European Union (EUTM RCA). Some units will provide security at the airport; others will be based in Ivory Coast and in the Sahel region ready to intervene if necessary.

As Le Drian refers, in fact, the security environment in the country has significantly improved, but there are still problems to be solved. The disarmament of rebel movements and the creation of a legitimate and efficient army are the major challenges that the newly elected President Faustine Archange Touadera will face. This explains the permanence of international missions and French forces. As it is known, indeed, France cares about the relations with the territories once belonging to its colonial empire and has repeatedly helped in internal crisis by sending its armed forces.

The withdrawal from Bangui is not a surprise. From the beginning, French mission was supposed to be a temporary mission and over the years, France has tried to decrease- when conditions made it ​​possible- its military presence on the ground. However, ensuring the continued presence of some units in the future once again emphasizes French commitment abroad -a clear sign that, despite the international situation and the threats to the country, France defends its values ​​of free nation and his influential position in the former colonial empire.

 

Paola Fratantoni

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Pope: an African high risk trip

High alert for Pope’s visit to Africa from November 25 to 30. The stages will be Kenya, Uganda and Central African Republic, where terror attack risk is high, as confirmed since last two months by the French intelligence.

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Despite the 148 dead in Kenyan university last April, Central African Republic causes the Holy See and the French Army, Head of the UN mission there, concern. High alert will be reached on November 29, at the opening of Jubilee of Mercy for Africa. Furthermore, Paris and, in particular, Mali hotel attacks further raise anxiety.

Obvious anxiety in Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin statement: “The Pope wants to go in Africa, even in its most critical stage, Central African Republic, where clashes resumed,” but “if there was ongoing conflicts, it would put Pope and population security at risk. ”

However, this anxiety does not deter the Pope, “ready – as said yesterday – to support interreligious dialogue to promote peaceful coexistence in your country.”

Central African Republic, as other African countries, lives an internal conflict because of civil war begun two and a half ago. Initially, it was not a religious but a political clash between rebels and regular army. After the deposition of President Bozize, this civil war became a religious conflict.

Analyzing the geography of the Central African Republic, the Center-South is more developed and mainly inhabited by Christians, who account for 80% of the total population. The North, however, is less developed and Muslims are in the majority. The lack of attention towards this territory from the capital city of Bangui favored rebels, who poured from aboard and the North of the country.

From 2003 to 2013, the protagonist of the Central African political scene was former President Bozize, twice elected and twice protected by the French army (in 2003 and 2006) during the two civil wars.

The first one (2003-2007) when the politician and soldier Michel Djotodia was his opponent. The second one, despite the cease-fire, in 2012, when presidential guards left him. After the resulting humanitarian crisis, Bozize fled to Cameroon. It was “Seleka”, a coalition of rebel group composed of Central Africans, Chadians and Sudaneses, to expel him.

In 2013, rebels become regular army. However, this new situation caused further clashes in the country, the third civil war since 2003. However, the UN resolution on December authorized France to a military intervention in Central African Republic.

In January 2014 it Catherine Samba-Panza, Christian but neutral, was elected president. She was the first woman to hold the post. Clashes between Muslims and Christians, however, continue to this day.
Giacomo Pratali

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Giacomo Pratali
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