Central African Republic
Q. – Do you confirm the dispatch of troops to the Central African Republic?
THE MINISTER – Indeed, our presence is going to be reinforced. We’re waiting for a new UN resolution to be adopted for this. This should happen next week. The resolution should provide for a reinforcement of African troops, MISCA [AFISM-CAR], and a reinforcement of French troops. As soon as we get this authorization from the international community, in support of the African Union and the request by the Central African authorities themselves, we’ll begin reinforcing our presence. We’ll announce the details when the time comes.
Q. – What about this figure of 800 put forward by the Central African Prime Minister?
THE MINISTER – It makes sense. We’ve simply got to ensure that the action we’re due to carry out with our African friends’ support is carried out in four areas, not one.
Firstly, security. This is what you’ve just talked about.
Secondly, the humanitarian side of things, because the situation is appalling. You’ve got to realize that in some parts of the country there’s an infant mortality rate of 25%, and that there’s a total of seven surgeons out of five million inhabitants.
Thirdly, it’s going to be necessary to work on the political transition, since there’s no legally elected political authority.
Fourthly, we’ll then have to work on economic development, too.
These four aspects will be dealt with on the basis of the United Nations resolution next week.
Q. – You’ve just been talking about the humanitarian situation. France and the United States have spoken of a pre-genocide situation; this morning the organization Human Rights Watch is refusing to go that far.
THE MINISTER – Those are fair observations. This evening I’ll have a meeting about the CAR with all the NGOs, at the Quai d’Orsay.
Q. – Do you use the term genocide?
THE MINISTER – Religious conflicts are being exacerbated. This was confirmed to me again yesterday by the Central African Republic’s Prime Minister, with whom I had a meeting and who gave me several examples of a cycle that must absolutely be stopped.
The majority of the Séléka rebels are Muslims, while the majority of the Central African Republic’s population is Christian. So we must take great care to ensure that these conflicts between bandits and the population don’t turn into religious clashes.
I was in the Central African Republic a few weeks ago and I met the religious authorities themselves there – Catholic, Muslim and Protestant. They utterly reject this downward spiral. We must remain very vigilant. Let’s also be careful about the vocabulary, but in any case there’s an absolutely huge risk of implosion, with one new factor: the terrible situation which the Central African Republic has been experiencing for years risks affecting other countries. Today, if the vacuum and the implosion take hold, it will concern all the countries in the region: i.e. Chad, Sudan, the Congo and Cameroon. As its name indicates, the Central African Republic is in the centre of Africa. For it to implode could have terrible consequences.
That’s why the international community and the Africans are right to say it’s now necessary to intervene./.