UN renews mandate for Central Africa mission

14 December 2018 - 08:56 By AFP
MINUSCA peacekeepers.
MINUSCA peacekeepers.
Image: UNICEF/Ashley Gilbertson/VII Photo/via REUTERS

The UN Security Council on Thursday renewed its peacekeeping mission to the Central African Republic, after tough talks between the United States, France and Russia.

Russia had slammed the French approach as "arrogant" and abstained, together with China, on the final vote, which was carried by the remaining 13 members of the Security Council.

The mandate allows for the deployment of 11,650 military personnel and 2,080 police as part of the UN mission, known as MINUSCA, to be extended until November 15, 2019.

The mandate was supposed to have been renewed in mid-November, but could only be extended for a month because of objections raised by Washington and Moscow.

The administration of President Donald Trump said it needed to consult Congress and demanded that no extra costs be incurred by extending the mission to support a redeployment of security forces from the Central African Republic.

Congress approved the move and the new resolution says the costs of the amended mission will be covered "by reallocating approved resources."

Russia leveled more outspoken criticism at the resolution. It has in recent months increased the number of its bilateral agreements with the Central African Republic, providing weapons, training troops and carrying out parallel negotiations and providing protection for President Faustin-Archange Touadera.

Moscow wanted recognition of these efforts, and for the soldiers it has trained to receive support from the UN mission.

On Thursday, Russian ambassador Vassily Nebenzia lashed out at what he called France's "arrogant" approach toward the negotiations concerning its former colony, accusing Paris of refusing to seek out compromises.

"This is not the first time we have been told, 'Take it or leave it,'" he said.

One of the world's poorest nations despite a rich supply of diamonds and uranium, the Central African Republic has struggled to recover from a 2013 civil war that erupted when President Francois Bozize, a Christian, was overthrown by mainly Muslim Seleka rebels.

In response, Christians, who account for about 80 percent of the population, organized vigilante units dubbed "anti-Balaka" in reference to a local machete. 

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