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Central African Republic - Military Personnel

The Central African military, particularly the gendarmerie, is extremely corrupt and often demands bribes. There is a system of selective conscription. President Bozize had been unwilling to take the steps that most observers would consider the minimums needed to secure his country and indeed his own hold on power. These would include upgrading of the military and police to allow him defeat the various rebel factions and assure security, if only in Bangui. It is likely he felt threatened by strong armed forces and thus purposefully kept the Central African Army (FACA) and the police weak. This in turn meant that the CARG can neither defeat rebel forces nor effectively control its territory, leaving it rife with rebels, bandits and poachers.

It is believed that only civil servants are liable for military service. Military service lasts for 2 years. After that a reserve obligation applies. It is not known if there are any postponement or exemption regulations. Just how the recruitment of civil servants takes place is not known. Recruits serve 2 years on active duty and in the reserves thereafter. Some eligible candidates pay bribes to avoid conscription. There is a training center at Bouar that handles basic, cadre, and officer training. Training is sporadic and the quality is not to Western standards.

Ethnic splits in the army and the government's inability to pay salaries regularly threaten the armed forces to complete their mission. Morale and capability are low. Ange Felix Patassé became president in 1993. Inheriting a military consisting of soldiers from Kolingba’s ethnic group, the Yakoma, Patassé created militias favoring his own Gbaya tribe and did not bother to pay the Yakoma-dominated regular army. Salary arrears, labor unrest, and unequal treatment of military officers from different ethnic groups led to three mutinies against the Patasse government in 1996 and 1997. President Patasse's failure to pay salaries and back pay in 1996 led to a succession of military mutinies that culminated in a demand for Patasse to step down.

Francois Bozize became president in 2003. President Bozize and a large number of the Presidential Guard (GP) were closely-related members of the Gbaya ethnic group, the dominant tribal group in the Western third of the country. There also were conflicts between the Presidential Guard and the military. The Presidential Guard, while weak, was still the strongest armed force in the country. Much of the opposition's disdain for Bozize resulted from his membership of the Gbaya ethnic group, described by some Central Africans (including one Minister in the government) as "the stupidest tribe in the nation."

As of August 2009, the US State Departement estimated that the C.A.R. armed forces numbered about 7,000, including army, navy, air force, gendarmerie, national police, Presidential Guard, and local police personnel. As of 2008, the US Department of Defense estimated that the Central African Armed Forces (CAAF) was composed of 15,000 personnel. The Central African Republic allocates 1.1% of the GDP for military expenditures. As of 2006, the US Department of Defense estimated that the Central African Armed Forces (FACA) had approximately 3000 members.

While the Ministry of Defense may claim some 8,000 soldier and gendarmes, as of 2009 the Deputy Minister freely admitted that only a bare 3,000 were actually capable of operations for a country the size of Texas. This meant approximately one soldier or gendarme per 207 square kilometers. Additionally, their level of training and equipment was minimal. The international forces of MICOPAX and MINURCAT were even less effective as neither was large enough to cover the entire CAR. Moreover, the former lacked the will to intervene and the latter lacked the mandate, as MINURCAT was limited to operating in only a small area in the extreme northeast of the country. It was thus important that one understands that the international forces in the CAR cannot or will not solve the problems of banditry and rebellion.

Members of northern ethnic groups, especially President Bozize's Baya ethnic group, continued to predominate among the National Army. The recruitment of its staff had always been done on a clan basis, and had been nepotistic and tribal.

During 2005, particularly around the time of the first round of voting in the March presidential elections, ethnic tensions within the armed forces resulted in the beating of several military personnel of the Yakoma ethnicity, the ethnicity of former president and 2005 presidential candidate Andre Kolingba, by non-Yakoma military personnel. For example on March 20, days after the first round of presidential election voting, two unidentified military officers of the Gbaya ethnicity, the ethnicity of President Bozize, beat Sergeant Marcel Kila, a Yakoma, near the Berengo military training center

By 2013 the CAR’s army committed bullying, harassment, and antisocial behavior; it engaged in humiliating and degrading acts against the population, and made people slaves in their own territory; it killed, pillaged, raped, and destroyed the homes and property of the population with impunity; it indulged in heinous and criminal acts. The CAR army had always suffered from the problem of training, logistics, and being under-staffed. It retreated with the advance of rebel factions.

But with the takeover of the Seleka rebel coalition, the national army’s problems had gotten even worse. It was now bedridden, having contracted the “Selekamania” disease. The national army was a mixture of elements of the Seleka coalition combined with the regular national forces. This is where the biggest obstacle lies: How to restructure an army that is composed of both a mixture of unarmed elements of the Seleka coalition along with the regular forces of the CAR army?

Reports of use of child soldiers continued during the year 2016. According to estimates by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), between 6,000 and 10,000 child soldiers were recruited during the latest conflict through 2015; some remained with armed groups. NGOs reported children recruited by armed groups were sent to fight, used for sexual purposes, and used as cooks, porters, or messengers.

Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) has become an integral part of post-conflict peace consolidation, featuring prominently in the mandates of peacekeeping operations over the last twenty years. DDR activities are crucial components of both the initial stabilization of warn-torn societies as well as their long-term development. DDR must be integrated into the entire peace process from the peace negotiations through peacekeeping and follow-on peacebuilding activities.

  • Disarmament is the collection, documentation, control and disposal of small arms, ammunition, explosives and light and heavy weapons from combatants and often from the civilian population.
  • Demobilization is the formal and controlled discharge of active combatants from armed forces and groups, including a phase of “reinsertion” which provides short-term assistance to ex-combatants.
  • Reintegration is the process by which ex-combatants acquire civilian status and gain sustainable employment and income. It is a political, social and economic process with an open time-frame, primarily taking place in communities at the local level.

The international community and the government of the Central African Republic (CARG) had attached much importance to Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) as the solution to the Central African Republic's (CAR) long running conflict. This would appear logical - disarm the rebels and reintegrate them back in to a peaceful society. This process, promoted by the United Nations (UN) in the Central African Republic (CAR) was beset by problems such as the slow roll out of the program, mismanagement of funds by the government (CARG) and difficulty raising funds from the international community. Despite an agreement reached in April 2009 that produced a list of rebels to be disarmed and the acceptance by the CARG to use money granted by the Economic Community of Central African States (CEMAC) for DDR for its expressed purpose, observers placed too much faith in the process as a solution to the CAR's ills.

Until the CAR Government had the means, and more importantly, the will, to fill the vacuum left behind by disarmed groups, both on a security and economic front, the effort was unlikely to accomplish its goals. And beyond that was the overarching problem that the CAR was a failed state - there was simply no economy into which former combatants can be "reintegrated."

Disarmament would require entering into a broad agreement that responded to the grievances of armed groups and the population alike, he said. A secure environment and an eminently political endeavor that addressed armed group demands, the priorities of the population and regional support were also needed.

By November 2011 the Minister in charge of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration explained that the disarmament and demobilization stages had been completed for approximately 4,800 combatants in the north-west. The expected signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement by the Convention des patriotes pour la justice et la paix would add approximately 3,000 well-armed combatants to be disarmed in the north-east.

The President of the Central African Republic briefed the Security Council 16 March 2017 on the latest developments in his country. President Faustin Archange Touadera expressed concern that Central African Republic forces had not been provided with the necessary logistical and military equipment. There were 8,000 military troops who had not been trained or equipped to serve on the ground. Given the fighting among armed groups, it was more important than ever to set up national forces that would protect civilians and identify how the Mission could be strengthened. He also expressed concern over the pace of training led by the European Union mission. “The training takes a long time, and in the short term, that means we do not have enough security,” he said, urging the Security Council to determine a more effective way to train and mobilize troops.

On 26 July 2016 the UN Security Council urged the CAR authorities to address the presence and activity of armed groups in the CAR by implementing a comprehensive strategy that prioritizes dialogue and the urgent implementation of an inclusive DDR/R program, to be implemented in coherence with SSR which ensures civilian oversight of defence and national security forces, with the support of the international community.

THe Security Council also urged the CAR authorities to adopt and implement a National Security Policy and a comprehensive strategy on SSR, including a strategy for a comprehensive reform of both the FACA, and the internal security forces (police and gendarmerie), in order to put in place professional, ethnically representative and regionally balanced national defence and internal security forces, including through the adoption and implementation of appropriate vetting procedures of all defence and security personnel, including human rights vetting, as well as measures to absorb elements of armed groups meeting rigorous eligibility and vetting criteria, and requested the Secretary-General to report to the Council on progress taken in this regard as part of his regular reporting cycle.

MINUSCA would support the CAR Authorities in developing and implementing an inclusive and progressive programme for the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) and, in case of foreign elements, Repatriation (DDRR), of members of armed groups, based on the Principles of DDRR and Integration into the Uniformed Corps, signed at the Bangui Forum on 10 May 2015, while paying specific attention to the needs of children associated with armed forces and groups.

On 01 June 2017 some 25% of the defense and security forces whose strength is estimated 10,399 missed the call for physical control in the army corps and the gendarmerie units, a few hours before the end of the operation. This was the partial conclusion of the control carried out this month of May in Bangui. With the aim of controlling the wage bill and consolidating public finances in accordance with the requirements of the international financial community and financial partner of the country, the government launched the physical check and balance of men in lattice.

The report reveals that 25% of the men, about 2,500 are missing and are considered either deserters or as ghost personnel paying on the state budget. The audit made it possible to identify disparities in the balance according to sources close to the file "our mission is to make the transparency regarding the payroll of the military. There were unjustified discrepancies, particularly with respect to men of rank who affect the balance of aides-de-camp.

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