A United Nations peacekeeping force will deploy Monday in the Central African Republic, which has been devastated by more than two years of sectarian violence and civil war. Many hope the U.N. troops will have a strong impact on economic development of this poor nation.
The Security Council authorized the force, known as MINUSCA, to take all necessary means to carry out its mandate in the CAR. For many in Bangui this means that the U.N. troops will not hesitate to use force against armed groups.
CAR government spokesperson Gaston Mackouzangba says the arrival of well-equipped U.N. troops will be a deterrent for armed groups.
“When you have 12,000 armed people, with better equipment than that of the CAR, that should be enough dissuade,” says Mackouzangba.
University of Bangui rector Gustave Bobossi-Séréngbé says economic development in the country took a big hit in recent years. He says beyond the restoration of security and peace, the U.N. troops will have a big impact on local development.
“There are no roads, there is no communication, school almost equates to zero. So everything is at level zero. And we are going to have almost 10,000 people with all kind of expertise coming in,” says Bobossi-Séréngbé.
Many leaders of the armed groups also say they welcome the U.N. troops. Movement of Central African Liberators for Justice leader Abakar Sabone, a member of the former Seleka coalition, says the U.N. troops are welcome because they will help bring peace. “They have the support of the people of CAR,” he adds.
According to U.N. officials, only 7,500 of the approximately 12,000 men expected will deploy Monday. Most of the 6,000 African Union troops already in the CAR will join the new U.N. mission.
Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres) Deputy Head of Mission in the CAR, Claude Cafardy, says he does not expect much will change.
“It seems that forces will look different. But right now, we are not confident [in] their efficiency in the coming months in CAR,” says Cafardy, adding that U.N. troops should expect resistance.
“We have been noticing that although things are improving in Bangui in terms of security, it is not the case in the rest of the country,” says Cafardy.
Professor Bobossi-Séréngbé also thinks armed groups will resist.
“There will be some resistance, but it will diminish over time. We have to convince them, they are citizens of CAR, and a civil war has already proven its limits,” says Bobossi-Séréngbé.
In addition to the AU soldiers in the country for the past nine months, new troops from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia have recently arrived. According to the United Nations, a 400 member U.N. police force will be deployed in the coming weeks in Bangui.