Q: Mr Araud, why isn’t there a peacekeeping force in the Central African Republic ?
The problem we have been facing since last summer is, first, that the international community does not know the Central African Republic. It is a forgotten crisis. It was necessary to mobilize our partners for a crisis that is not on the front page of the newspapers. Afterwards, you have an African force and the African Union is telling us: why do you want to come, we are doing the job.
Q: So the Africans are not up to the job?
The Africans say that they are doing the job, that they have been there for three months and that we have to give them enough time to show what they can do. They feel that we are criticizing them by saying that we need a peacekeeping operation.
Q: But you believe that it is no disservice to the African Union force for them to be backed up by a UN force or for them to be turned into a UN force?
The African contingents on the ground are pretty good. But they are lacking some basic capabilities in terms of command and control, mobility and logistics. The UN can provide for that. On the other hand, we also need a robust civilian component. A large part of the problem is that there is no State or administration left in the Central African Republic. To fight against the Anti-balaka, we need “gendarmes” and a police. Soldiers cannot chase these anti-balaka people. For all these reasons, we need a peacekeeping operation. I can tell you that we, the French, hope to create it in the coming weeks. We are negotiating right now a resolution with the Africans to create a peacekeeping operation in the Central African Republic.
Q: With a force of how many?
The request made by the UN Secretary-General is more than 10,000 soldiers and 2,000 policemen.
Q: And do you reckon that they could be deployed within a matter of weeks or at the very most months?
This is another problem: the UN is pretty slow. It will take a few months to reach the target of 10,000 soldiers.
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