Rebels warned against disrupting CAR elections

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from OMAN MBIKO in Bangui, Central African Republic
BANGUI, (CAJ News) AFTER maintaining some measure of stability in the conflict prone-country, the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping force has set its sights on ensuring credible elections in the Central African Republic (CAR) at the end of the year.

The Central African country heads to general polls on December 27 amid fears of a recurrence of anarchy.

The UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in the CAR (MINUSCA) has issued a stern warning to armed groups that could trigger instability.

The MINUSCA force and the National Elections Authority (ANE) are currently working to ensure the security of enumerators carrying out the registration process.

“The (UN) mission will not tolerate any obstacle to the recruitment operation,” Vladimir Monteiro, the MINUSCA spokesperson, said.

“Any armed group is warned against threatening to disrupt the process,” Monteiro added.

The government of incumbent, President Faustin-Archange Touadéra, signed a peace process with 14 armed groups- consisting of Muslim radicals and Christian extremists- in 2019 but some groups have openly violated the truce.

Monteiro recalled that MINUSCA encouraged dialogue between all actors for a peaceful and inclusive electoral process.

Mankeur Ndiaye, the head of MINUSCA and the special representative of the UN Secretary-General António Guterres in the CAR, has been holding meetings with the incumbent, the opposition, civil society and other actors in order to promote messages of peace and to call for dialogue and consultation.

“MINUSCA is working in close collaboration and perfect synergy with the G5 on the electoral question,” Monteiro concluded.

The G5 is composed of the European Union (EU), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), World Bank, the African Union (AU), the Embassy of France and the United States in the CAR as well as the UN.

In 2015, polls were held in an atmosphere characterised by insecurity.

Touadéra, who is the former Prime Minister, was declared the winner with 63 percent of the vote. He defeated Union for Central African Renewal candidate, Anicet-Georges Dologuélé, another former Prime Minister.

François Bozizé, whose government was overthrown in 2013, announced they would not take part but confirmed his candidacy for the presidency in the upcoming elections.

This is contrary to an assurance that he would not contest again, as part of an earlier peace agreement reached in 2013.

Meanwhile, MINUSCA has pledged its support for the National Strategy for Security Sector Reform (SSR).

Touadéra has recognised SSR as a key priority of his mandate.

According to critics, previous SSR efforts failed partly because of a lack of political will of national authorities, institutional governance deficits and the international community’s unwillingness to commit the necessary financial resources.

It is a cog in preventing a return to violence in the country of more than 4,6 million people.

At the beginning of September, 500 student gendarmes graduated after completing training exercise. In total, 1 350 police and gendarmes have been trained.

“The progress made marks an irreversible march for the CAR towards the effective implementation of the reform programme of the security sector,” Monteiro said.

Captain Léo-Franck Gnapié, spokesperson of the police, said the inception of the 1 350 police officers and gendarmes into the force was a milestone.

“This reinforces the operational capacities of the internal security forces to face major challenges including the protection of civilians, the fight against impunity and the security of the electoral process,” Gnapié said.

The force remains confident of eliminating the remnants of militancy, mostly the Return, Reclamation, and Rehabilitation (3R).

The rebel group has been terrorizing locals since 2015.

“The force is stepping up its offensive and reconnaissance patrols on different axes and localities in order to capture and disarm any 3R elements,” Force, Commander, Issoufou Aboubacar Tawaye, said.

MINUSCA was deployed in 2014. It has more than 10 000 troops on the ground.

– CAJ News

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