UN lifts last restriction on arms for Central African Republic government, but not for mercenaries

Jul 27, 2023, 7:42 PM

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council lifted a requirement that the Central African Republic get advance U.N. approval for arms purchases and transfers for its security forces, but kept an arms embargo on mercenaries and all other armed groups despite vehement opposition from the country’s government.

The resolution ending all restrictions on arms for the government was approved by a vote of 13-0 with Russia and China abstaining.

Mercenaries from Russia’s Wagner Group have been working in the Central African Republic, known as CAR, at the government’s request, and until the vote was taken most diplomats were uncertain whether Russia would veto the resolution or abstain.

CAR’s Foreign Minister Sylvie Baïpo-Temon told the council after the vote that the arms embargo, which was imposed in 2013, should have been lifted in its entirety. She called the resolution “one of flagrant double standards,” intimating it was the work of Western power blocs.

“This injustice is feeding not peace but insecurity and disorder in the Central African Republic and the world,” Baïpo-Temon warned.

The mineral-rich but impoverished Central African Republic has faced deadly intercommunal fighting since 2013, when predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power and forced President Francois Bozize from office. Mostly Christian militias later fought back, also targeting civilians in the streets. Untold thousands were killed, and most of the capital’s Muslims fled in fear.

A peace deal between the government and 14 rebel groups was signed in February 2019, but violence erupted after the constitutional court rejected Bozize’s candidacy to run for president in December 2020. President Faustin Archange Touadera won a second term with 53% of the vote, but he continues to face opposition from a rebel coalition linked to Bozize. Touadera brought in Wagner mercenaries who have helped keep him in power.

The Wagner Group, whose leader Yevgeny Prigozhin briefly threatened Russian President Vladimir Putin last month when he led his fighters from Ukraine toward Moscow, has expanded Russia’s influence in Africa. Its fighters have also brutalized civilians in CAR, Mali and elsewhere to crush dissent and fend off threats to their leaders’ power.

The resolution adopted Thursday doesn’t mention Wagner by name but it condemns cross-border criminal activities, the illicit transfer of small arms and light weapons that threaten peace and security in CAR, and “the use of mercenaries and violations of international humanitarian law and human rights violations perpetrated by them.”

It maintains the arms embargo on mercenaries and armed groups until July 31, 2024, and extends the mandate of the panel of experts monitoring implementation of sanctions in CAR until Aug. 31, 2024.

U.S. deputy ambassador Robert Wood told the council after the vote that the resolution “will help keep dangerous weapons and resources from reaching armed groups.”

While the United States acknowledges CAR’s call to fully lift the arms embargo, Wood said, Washington remains concerned at the security situation in the country and notes that the government has not met benchmarks for the embargo to be lifted. He said further efforts are needed to strengthen CAR’s management of weapons stockpiles and to address cross-border smuggling of arms and natural resources.

Wood said the United States is also “increasingly alarmed” by reports that shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles known as MANPADS have been transported by the Wagner Group through CAR to Sudan where the country’s military and paramilitary have been fighting since mid-April.

Under Thursday’s resolution, Wood said, “Russia remains obligated” to inform the Security Council sanctions committee “of all transfers of weapons and resources to its Wagner mercenaries,. He stressed that failure to do so will violate sanctions.

Russia’s deputy U.N. ambassador Dmitry Polyansky said Moscow had urged the council to lift the arms embrgo on grounds that it is hindering the government’s efforts to combat illegal armed groups and isn’t preventing the supply of arms to fighters. He expressed regret that the views of CAR and other council members were not accepted.

“It is no secret to anyone that sanctions regimes are used by some states as a lever to exert political pressure under the umbrella of the U.N. and international umbrella,” he said. “We do not believe that this approach is constructive.”

United States News

Arizona Reps. Andy Biggs, left, and Eli Crane are seen together in a file photo. They were among fi...

Alexandria Cullen and Adrienne Washington/Cronkite News

Arizona Reps. Biggs, Crane vote to block defense bill as shutdown looms

Two Arizona lawmakers were among five GOP House members who broke ranks Thursday and voted to block the defense authorization bill.

47 minutes ago

FILE - The sun sets beyond the downtown skyline of Kansas City, Mo., as the autumnal equinox marks ...

Associated Press

The fall equinox is here. What does that mean?

NEW YORK (AP) — Fall is in the air — officially. The equinox arrives on Saturday, marking the start of the fall season for the Northern Hemisphere. But what does that actually mean? Here’s what to know about how we split up the year using the Earth’s orbit. WHAT IS THE EQUINOX? As the Earth […]

52 minutes ago

FILE - Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., arrives for a vote on Capitol Hill, Sept. 6, 2023 in Washington. ...

Associated Press

New Jersey Sen. Menendez and his wife are indicted on bribery charges

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey and his wife have been indicted on charges of bribery. Federal prosecutors on Friday announced the charges against the 69-year-old Democrat nearly six years after an earlier criminal case against him ended with a deadlocked jury. The latest indictment is unrelated to the earlier charges […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

Authorities search for suspect wanted in killing who was mistakenly released from Indianapolis jail

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A man wanted for a 2021 killing in Minnesota was mistakenly released from jail in Indianapolis last week and authorities are now offering a reward of up to $10,000 as they continue searching for him. Kevin Mason, 28, was arrested in Indianapolis on Sept. 11 but a preliminary review found he was […]

1 hour ago

FILE - Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, left, shakes hands with Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng duri...

Associated Press

United States and China launch economic and financial working groups with aim of easing tensions

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Treasury Department and China’s Ministry of Finance launched a pair of economic working groups on Friday in an effort to ease tensions and deepen ties between the nations. Led by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Vice Premier He Lifeng, the working groups will be divided into economic and financial segments. […]

3 hours ago

Deb Libby, who poses in Worcester, Mass., on Aug. 21, 2023, has been on the state waitlist for publ...

Associated Press

Massachusetts has a huge waitlist for state-funded housing. So why are 2,300 units vacant?

Deb Libby is running out of time to find a place to live. Libby, 56, moved to Worcester, Massachusetts, four years ago, in part to be closer to the doctors treating her for pancreatic cancer. But the landlord wants her out by the end of the month and she can’t find anything else she can […]

5 hours ago

Sponsored Articles



Importance of AC maintenance after Arizona’s excruciating heat wave

An air conditioning unit in Phoenix is vital to living a comfortable life inside, away from triple-digit heat.



Here are the biggest tips to keep your AC bill low this summer

PHOENIX — In Arizona during the summer, having a working air conditioning unit is not just a pleasure, but a necessity. No one wants to walk from their sweltering car just to continue to be hot in their home. As the triple digits hit around the Valley and are here to stay, your AC bill […]


OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center

5 mental health myths you didn’t know were made up

Helping individuals understand mental health diagnoses like obsessive compulsive spectrum disorder or generalized anxiety disorder isn’t always an easy undertaking. After all, our society tends to spread misconceptions about mental health like wildfire. This is why being mindful about how we talk about mental health is so important. We can either perpetuate misinformation about already […]

UN lifts last restriction on arms for Central African Republic government, but not for mercenaries