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UN eases arms embargo on Central African Republic

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The UN Security Council on Thursday unanimously approved the easing of an arms embargo on the Central African Republic for the first time since 2013 when it was engulfed in violence.

Drafted by France, the resolution authorizes the country’s security forces to be supplied with weapons of a caliber of 14.5 mm or less provided that the UN has been notified at least 20 days in advance.

The notifications must specify the type, caliber, quantity and serial or lot numbers of the weapons as well as the manufacturer and supplier.

Under no circumstances can the weapons be sold or transferred to third parties, according to the resolution.

“This resolution will allow for… CAR to take care of their own security,” France’s ambassador to the UN Nicolas de Riviere told reporters. “France will continue to encourage the authorities of CAR to do their own job in terms of implementing the peace process.”

Russia, which has already made two deliveries of weapons to the Central African Republic and provides it with “military and technical assistance without financial compensation,” plans to continue “in the future to provide support” to this country, Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told the Security Council.

“The Central African authorities expect more from the Security Council, including a new easing of the arms embargo,” he added. “We think they have every reason to expect this.”

He said a further relaxation of the embargo could be discussed at a meeting planned for January.

“It remains to be seen when there can be a further easing,” said another diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity. “The hope is there won’t be too many weapons entering the country, especially weapons the state cannot control.”

“The number of weapons entering the country must correspond to real needs,” the diplomat added.

The Central African Republic, a country of 4.5 million people, plunged into violence and chaos in 2013 after President Francois Bozize was ousted from power by Seleka rebels.

The state controls only a small part of national territory, as armed groups fight in the provinces over resources like diamonds, gold or livestock.

Since 2013, the United Nations has enforced a total arms embargo, except for exemptions approved in 2017 with French and Russian backing to equip newly formed army units.

The UN has 13,000 peacekeepers deployed in the Central African Republic.

In February, the government reached a peace agreement with 14 armed groups that led to the formation of a new government that includes representatives of the groups.

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