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Rwanda lashes out at 'cry baby' DR Congo
by Staff Writers
United Nations, United States (AFP) Jan 30, 2014

Forces on the ground in the Central African Republic
Bangui, Central African Republic (AFP) Jan 29, 2014 - The French army, an African force, domestic security forces, former Islamic rebels and Christian militias are all active in the unstable Central African Republic.

Below is a breakdown of the main forces on the ground in the country of 4.6 million amid a new international push to end deadly chaos there:

- THE FRENCH ARMY: France has deployed 1,600 troops, many of them elite, to support an African regional force, in the framework of "Operation Sangaris", which was launched on December 5, 2013, after the United Nations gave the green light.

Around 1,000 are in the capital, but there are also units in the west, in the region of Bossangoa.

The French troops have at their disposal eight helicopters and the support of Rafale fighter jets based in neighbouring Chad, which perform flyovers as a show of force.

The European Union is backing the Franco-African effort, with Belgium, Britain and Germany having offered logistical aid.

- THE AFRICAN FORCE: The African-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (MISCA), a regional force created on August 1, 2013, has taken over from several different African forces which have been deployed in the country since 2002.

Currently MISCA counts around 5,500 men, from Burundi (850), Cameroon (800), Congo (850), Democratic Republic of Congo (850), Gabon (500), Equatorial Guinea (200), Chad (850) and Rwanda (650).

- EX-SELEKA REBELS: In January the French and African troops started efforts to disarm and return to barracks many of the Muslim ex-Seleka rebels who seized power in a March 2013 coup.

However, before this operation many of the rebels fled the capital with their arms, while others are spread out in different neighbourhoods of the capital Bangui.

- ANTI-BALAKA MILITIAS: Meaning "anti-machete", these Christian self-defence militias, set up to avenge Seleka violence, first appeared last September, especially in the northwest of the country.

They are mainly armed with knives and are mainly present in the bush, but have also grown in numbers in Bangui, estimated at several thousand by a military source.

They have been responsible for numerous attacks on Muslim civilians. The French army is currently trying to disarm them.

- CENTRAL AFRICAN FORCES: Under confidence-building measures established by the French army and the Central African Republic authorities the country's forces have been returned to barracks.

Only the French and African soldiers have the right to patrol Bangui, with the exception of some 400 police officers who have recently been redeployed in Bangui police stations in support of MISCA.

- THE EUROPEAN FORCE: The UN Security Council on Tuesday gave its backing to a European force which is expected to come to up to 600 men, which will mainly be charged with securing Bangui airport and its surroundings. The force will not deploy for several weeks.

The UN Security Council on Thursday renewed a sanctions regime against Democratic Republic of Congo in a vote that sparked a furious row between Congo and Rwanda.

The council backed a sanctions committee report which says the M23 rebel group is recruiting in Rwanda despite its military defeat and that its leaders are moving freely in Uganda.

Rwanda, as a temporary member of the 15-nation Security Council, voted for resolution 2136 but then lashed out at the sanctions report and DR Congo.

Kigali's UN ambassador Eugene-Richard Gasana called the sanctions committee report "baseless" and said his DR Congo counterpart was a "cry baby" always complaining to the council about Rwanda.

DR Congo's ambassador Ignace Gata Mativa said the sanctions experts had clearly shown "grave violations" by Rwanda and Uganda by aiding "destabilization" in eastern DR Congo.

"Such an attitude constitutes an act of aggression that the Security Council must record and condemn," Gata added.

"Dear friend, it is time to stop acting like a cry baby each time, each time to come here and hit out at Rwanda," Gasana responded.

M23 launched an uprising against the DR Congo government in 2012 and briefly occupied the key city of Goma before it was defeated by government forces late last year. It is one of a host of groups that have brought strife to eastern DR Congo over the past two decades.

UN experts have repeatedly said Rwanda and Uganda support the rebels. The two countries deny any role in the uprising.

Gasana repeated accusations that the experts are "unprofessional" and that their work threatens peace efforts.

The council resolution renewed the mandate of the experts and expressed "full support" for their work, however.

The council expressed "strong condemnation" of "internal or external support to armed groups active in the region, including through financial, logistical and military support." But it did not mention Rwanda or any alleged backing for M23.

The resolution did highlight "deep concern" over accusations in the sanctions report that DR Congo forces had been in "collaboration" with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, which includes some fighters who took part in Rwanda's 1994 genocide.

The Security Council ordered that individuals and entities arming DR Congo groups "through illicit trade of natural resources, including gold or wildlife as well as wildlife products" should be included on the sanctions list.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said in a statement that the move was a "critical step" in the battle against elephant poaching and illicit ivory trading.

A resolution passed Tuesday starting a sanctions regime in neighboring Central African Republic also said poachers linked to armed groups should be targeted.

WWF said that more than 20,000 elephants are killed each year for their tusks, many of them in Central Africa conflict zones.


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