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Russian Military Base May Appear in CAR - Defence Minister

Sputnik News

09:23 10.01.2019(updated 15:58 10.01.2019)

ST. PETERSBURG (Sputnik) - A Russian military base may appear in the Central African Republic, the framework agreement envisions such a possibility, but the issue has not been discussed so far, CAR Defense Minister Marie-Noelle Koyara said in an interview with Sputnik.

"We have not yet discussed this. Everything will be done within the framework of the military treaty that we signed. This treaty is the basis of all our initiatives… Much still needs to be done, but there will be discussions between the supreme commander-in-chief (the president of the republic) and his colleagues. And the ministers will enforce it," Marie-Noelle Koyara said.

She said that when a Berengo training centre had been established for military personnel, people began to talk about turning Berengo into a Russian military base, but this was speculation, as it could not be considered a Russian military base.

"Our population perceives Russia very well. When the talk is about Russia, people understand that this is a full-fledged partner that may change the country's future. And it is this human support, so to speak from the masses, that suggests that the word 'partner' is fully applicable to Russia," Koyara added.

The authorities and armed groups of the Central African Republic are ready for a meeting on settlement under the auspices of the African Union, they expect to be notified of the date and venue, Marie-Noelle Koyara added.

"Armed groups are ready for a meeting, we are ready for a meeting, all interested parties are ready for a meeting, and now we are waiting for the response from the African Union as a coordinator, when and where it should take place," Koyara said.

The meeting on settlement of the conflict in the Central African Republic under the auspices of the African Union should result in the development of a road map, Marie-Noelle Koyara said.

"The elected president chose the path of dialogue to return to peace, after which the African Union decided to aggregate all the proposals to develop a road map to implement this path. And now the role of the African Union is to send expert representatives to a joint meeting with representatives of the CAR government," Koyara added.

After the disarmament of Anti-balaka and Seleka in the Central African Republic, the armed groups may join official security structures, Koyara stressed.

"The main goal of this dialogue is to bring these groups to disarmament. After that, they have, in fact, two paths… Those who want may join security agencies. These are the police, the army, the gendarmerie and those involved in forestry," Koyara said.

Others, she said, may return to peaceful life as part of public projects and social programs.

"One of the recommendations that we heard at the international forum in Bangui was that due to the fact that there was such a huge number of crimes, we cannot afford a full total amnesty. Those who committed crimes must answer for them. Therefore, our Justice Ministry has much work to divide [people] into those who may be pardoned and those not worthy of it, who may not be pardoned," Koyara said.

Arms Supplies to CAR

The United States and France consider the UN Security Council's embargo on Russian weapons supplies to the Central African Republic to be technical, work is underway to remove the existing issues, Marie-Noelle Koyara said.

"Three weeks ago, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian visited the Central African Republic, and we discussed this situation, among other things. It was said that the embargo problem was more of a technical nature – if the Security Council lifted it, then the issue would be resolved. And he advised how to present our position for the embargo to be lifted," Koyara said.

She said the US side had also confirmed that the embargo was technical.

The Central African Republic has been destabilized by a violent conflict between Christian anti-Balaka militia, Seleka faction and the government since 2012. Since 2014, the country has been divided between the three groups. In late August, Seleka and anti-Balaka militia signed a Declaration of Understanding after a Russia-brokered peace meeting in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum.


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