BRUSSELS, BELGIUM. The European Union said this week that it was supporting Central African leaders’ plan to send 2000 troops to the coup d’état-prone Central African Republic (CAR), where looting, murder, vengeance and insecurity continue unabated, and are driving thousands of people out of the country to seek relief and peace.
But the European body said it will keep its 200-million USD aid suspended until the government of CAR restores the rule of law, to the dismay of visiting CAR Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye who was on bended knee to beg the country’s top donor to keep the aid money flowing.
The violence and insecurity, especially in the capital Bangui, has been mostly blamed on the ‘ill-disciplined’ rebels of the Seleka coalition, whose Muslim leader Michel Djotodia overthrew dictator Francois Bozize on 24 March 2013.
A total of 13 South African troops out of over 200, sent by the ANC-led government to protect Bozize in exchange for diamond and oil deals, were killed in the ultimate battle for the presidential palace.
South African President Jacob Zuma called the Seleka rebels a bunch of ‘bandits’ that wanted to take power by force. However, the South African government has been asked to provide troops to assist in the CAR peacekeeping mission. It is believed that most of the troops will come from the member states of the Economic Community for the Central African States, which includes the likes of DRC, Congo-Brazzaville, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, Gabon and Chad, among others.
But in the meantime, Djotodia faces an uphill battle to restore calm and security in the war-torn impoverished but mineral-rich nation.
The head of the EU diplomacy Catherine Ashton this week condemned the Seleka rebels’ coup d’état, and expressed her concern about the deteriorating security situation and alleged human rights violations in. In a statement, Ashton urged all parties to protect the civilian population and end the recruitment and use of children in armed groups.
Last week, the UN children agency also condemned the new recruitment of children in the military ranks of all armed groups, and warned their leaders that they could face the full might of the law for such actions.
*Photo: Child soldiers patrol the streets of the capital Bangui in CAR.