12,000 others have been authorized by the United Nations Security Council
Additional foreign troops are arriving in the troubled Central African Republic (CAR) where 2,000 French soldiers have failed to halt the forced removal and mass murder of Muslims within this mineral-rich state of 4.7 million people.
The European Union’s EUFOR will deploy up to 1,000 personnel to the country where instability and violence have escalated over the last year. In March 2013, the Muslim-dominated Seleka Coalition took control of the capital of Bangui installing interim President Michel Djotodia.
Seleka’s rule was characterized by the abuse of the population and the failure to restore order and national reconciliation. In January Djotodia was summoned along with the entire government of the CAR to a regional summit in Chad where France exerted its authority over the former colonial territories to force the resignation and exile of the interim leader.
Since January and the installation of another interim leader, President Catherine Samba-Panza, the previous mayor of Bangui, it has not improved the security situation. Approximately 8,000 peacekeeping troops have participated in the forced evictions of hundreds of thousands of Muslims out of the country many of whom have fled to neighboring Chad and Cameroon.
Since the fall of Djotodia, Christian-dominated militias known as the Anti-Balaka have carried out reprisals against the Muslim population. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, have been killed while tens of thousands more are being forced to seek refuge and flee the country.
Muslim communities, mosques and businesses were looted and destroyed. At present most of the remaining Muslims inside the country are waiting for the right conditions to leave and take up residence outside the CAR.
6,000 African troops mandated to patrol the CAR by the African Union and the UN, have been caught up in the internecine conflict while the national economy is being weakened through the loss of jobs, food and consumer goods. Recently Chadian troops withdrew from the CAR due to criticism of their role in the conflict.
Pledges to the UN and other international humanitarian agencies of funds to provide relief have not been forthcoming. The AU’s Peace and Security Council appears to lack the authority to apply political pressure on both the internal political leaders as well as the imperialist states, which are coordinating the peacekeeping operations, to reach an amicable settlement.
With specific reference to the EUFOR troops who have been deployed in the CAR, EU foreign secretary Catherine Ashton said in a statement that “The launch of this operation demonstrates the EU’s determination to take full part in international efforts to restore stability and security in Bangui and right across the Central African Republic. It is vital that there is a return to public order as soon as possible, so that the political transition process can be put back on track.” (April 10)
According to France 24, a Paris-based military spokesman, Francois Guillerment, said that 55 EUFOR soldiers were in Bangui and conducting patrols. The EU foreign office is saying that their presence in the CAR will be temporary. (April 10)
In a statement on the deployment and the special unit being dispatched, the EU reports that “EUFOR RCA is to provide temporary support in achieving a safe and secure environment in the Bangui area, with a view to handing over to African partners. The force will thereby contribute to international efforts to protect the populations most at risk, creating the conditions for providing humanitarian aid.” (eeas.europa.eu website on EUFOR RCA)
Imperialists Escalate African Occupations
The thousands of foreign troops coordinated by imperialist states being deployed to the CAR cannot be viewed solely within the context of humanitarian relief. Africa and the international community have witnessed numerous similar operations which only served to reinforce western-dominance and foster the further disempowerment of the African continent and its regional institutions.
This EUFOR military scheme was announced at the EU-Africa Summit held in early April in Brussels, Belgium. The summit was criticized by several continental states in addition to the AU’s Peace and Security Council, yet it still took place with the attendance of a majority of African governments participating on various levels.
These political factors in the contemporary character of EU-Africa relations cannot be divorced from the reports which indicate that Europe contributes substantial amounts of funds to the AU. In several of the geo-political regions where conflicts are taking place in Africa, the EU as well as the United States is heavily involved through various forms of military and intelligence operations.
In Somalia, where 22,000 African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) troops are deployed, it is the U.S. and EU which provides the training, funding, military consultancies and intelligence coordination. Pentagon and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) drones are in heavy use throughout the Horn of Africa, extending right out into the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean.
Until Africa forms at least a “stand-by force” to intervene within these states where internal conflict is taking place, the continuation and escalation of military deployments by imperialist states and their surrogates will remain a central pillar in the foreign policy of western governments. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the first prime minister and then president of the Republic of Ghana, had called for an All-African High Command during the 1960s aimed at rapid decolonization and the prevention of imperialist invasions and occupations.
Such a military force would have to be backed by strong and politically viable African states that are rooted in the social interests of the majority of workers and farmers within the continent. Under such circumstances the regional institutions would have the political authority to resolve internal issues such as the conflicts in the CAR, South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, Egypt and other countries.
Mr. Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor, Pan-African News Wire, is one of the frequent contributors for The 4th Media.