Thursday, January 30, 2014

African Union to Mobilize $500 Million for Military Efforts in CAR

AU to mobilize $500 mln for peace efforts in Central African Republic

Xinhua | Agencies
Published on January 29, 2014 21:31

The African Union (AU) seeks to mobilize 500 million US dollars to support military operations by the International Support Mission for Central African Republic (MISCA) authorized by the UN to restore peace in the country.

A source in Addis Ababa told Xinhua on Tuesday the funds will be mobilized at a donors' conference scheduled to take place in the Ethiopian capital on Saturday.

According to the official agenda, the crisis in Central African Republic will be one of the key issues to be discussed during the 22nd AU summit that will begin on Wednesday evening with a crisis session of the Peace and Security Council (PSC), which is currently chaired by Guinean President Alpha Conde.

Wednesday's mini-summit will examine the latest developments in the political transition process in Central African Republic, especially the election of Catherine Samba Panza as the transition president to replace Michel Djotodia, ex-Seleka rebel chief.

Djotodia together with his prime minister Nicolas Tiangaye were forced to resign on Jan. 10 during an extraordinary summit of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) in N'Djamena, for their inability to end a cycle of violence in the country.

The director for the AU's peace and security department, El Ghassim Wane, told Xinhua that the AU was seeking 500 million dollars to support activities of MISCA, which is under its command for the next 12 months.

The AU force, which is charged with the mandate of securing the entire Central African Republic territory, took over duty in Bangui on Dec. 19, 2013 from the Central Africa Multinational Force (FOMAC), which had been deployed to the country by the ECCAS.

With two generals at the top, Republic of Congo's Jean Marie Mokoko and Cameroon's Martin Tumental, MISCA is seen by AU officials as the only hope of ending Central African Republic's crisis, with the support of French troops.

With a figure of about 5,300 out of the expected figure of 6, 000 officers, the AU hopes to increase its numbers in the near future, Wane said.

"We shall succeed in this mission. The only challenge is the financial means. Such challenges are always there, just as the case was in Somalia," he said.

Currently, the force is being funded by foreign powers, with the European Union contributing 50 million euros and the US providing support worth 100 million dollars, Wane said.

Besides the 54 AU member states, 60 other countries and organizations are expected at the donors' conference on Saturday.

Central African Republic's conflict erupted in December 2012, when ex-Seleka rebels launched an offensive against the regime of ex-president Francois Bozize. Violence escalated after Djotodia toppled Bozize on March 24, 2013. The flare became an interethnic and interreligious clashes between ex-Seleka rebels (Muslims) and the anti-Balaka militia (Christians), sparking worldwide concern about another genocide after the 1994 Rwanda massacre.

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