UN renews mandate for Central African Republic peacekeeping mission

The United Nations Security Council on Thursday, December 13 renewed its peacekeeping mission to the Central African Republic, after tough talks between the United States, France and Russia.

Russia and China abstained on the final vote, which was carried by the remaining 13 members of the Security Council.

The mandate maintains a deployment ceiling of 11,650 military personnel and 2,080 police as part of the U.N. mission, known as Minusca, after the council last year increased the authorized number of personnel by 900.

The mandate was extended until November 15, 2019. It was due for renewal in mid-November, but was then only extended for a month because of objections raised by Washington and Moscow.

President Faustin-Archange Touadera in April called for more peacekeepers to be deployed, and for Minusca to transition from peacekeeping to peace enforcement.

Touaderaís weak government controls around a fifth of Central African Republic and relies heavily on the Minusca peacekeeping mission for support. The rest of the country is controlled by at least 14 different militia groups who often fight each other for control of revenue from extortion, roadblocks or mineral resources.

US concerns over cost The French-drafted resolution authorizes Minusca to ìpromote and support the rapid extension of State authority over the entire territory of the CAR, including by supporting the deployment of vetted and trained national police and gendarmerieî in areas outside the capital Bangui.

It further authorizes Minusca to ìprovide limited logistical support for the progressive redeployment of a limited number of FACA [CAR Armed Forces] units trained or certified by EUTM-RCA,î and to ìprovide enhanced planning and technical assistance to FACA units.î

The provision of logistical support, an extension of Miniscaís mandate, raised eyebrows, in particular from the U.S. which is seeking to streamline peacekeeping operations to reduce costs and make them more effective, diplomats said.

President Donald Trumpís administration said it needed to consult Congress and demanded that no extra costs be incurred by extending the mission to support redeployments.

Congress approved the move and the new resolution says the costs of the amended mission will be covered ìby reallocating approved resources.î

Also on Thursday, National Security Advisor John Bolton said the U.S. will seek an end to U.N. peacekeeping missions in Africa that do not bring long-term peace.

We will only back effective and efficient operations, and we will seek to streamline, reconfigure or terminate missions that are unable to meet their own mandate or facilitate lasting peace,î Bolton said in a speech on Africa policy at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank.

Our objective is to resolve conflicts, not freeze them in perpetuity,î he said.

We will not provide legitimacy to missions that give large payouts to countries sending poorly equipped soldiers who provide insufficient protection to vulnerable populations on the ground,î said Bolton, who is long known for his hawkish criticism of the U.N.

He also denounced China for its aggressive quest for natural resources and its rising military and maritime presence, and accused Russia of using the continent to seek past imperial glory.

The predatory practices pursued by China and Russia stunt economic growth in Africa, threaten the financial independence of African nations, inhibit opportunities for U.S. investment, interfere with U.S. military operations and pose a significant threat to U.S. national security interests, Bolton said.