More Rwandan peacekeepers in CAR to reinforce electoral security

On 26 December 2020 at 07:56

A total of 300 Rwandan peacekeepers have been deployed to Central African Republic (CAR) to reinforce security during elections scheduled on Sunday 27th December 2020.

The United Nations has revealed that these soldiers arrived in CAR on Christmas Eve on board two aircrafts from South Sudan where they had been deployed for United Nations Mission in South Sudan (MINUSS).

This reinforcement is part of the implementation of the integrated plan to secure the presidential and legislative elections due to take place on Sunday. It aims to reinforce MINUSCA to respond to security challenges currently facing the Central African Republic.

"These additional peacekeepers will strengthen MINUSCA Force’s to reinforce security systems during elections, which consists, in part, of deploying troops in the electoral districts in support of the Central African defense and security forces," said the UN mission in a statement released on Friday.

The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in CAR, Mankeur Ndiaye, welcomed these additional peacekeepers and expressed optimism for their contribution highlighting that ‘the professionalism of Rwandan peacekeepers is known to all’.

Mr. Ndiaye, who is also the head of MINUSCA, thanked the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, for having requested and obtained the authorization of the United Nations Security Council to urgently strengthen the current system of the United Nations’ peace operation in CAR as armed groups try to disrupt Sunday’s elections.

He explained that it is further proof of the full commitment of the international community alongside the CAR people for elections scheduled on 27th December 2020.

The 300 peacekeepers deployed are additional to force protection troops that the Government of Rwanda deployed to CAR last week under an existing bilateral agreement on defense.

The Ministry of Defense revealed that the previous deployment was in response to the targeting of the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) contingent under the UN Peacekeeping force by rebels supported by François Bozize who was president between 2003 and 2013.

During an interactive session with members of the press at the occasion of delivering ‘State of the Nation Address,’ Kagame said, the country already has forces in CAR for peace keeping mission but the situation is changing due to upcoming elections.

"We have forces serving under UN peacekeeping effort in CAR. The country is in the process of carrying out elections, scheduled on 27th December. This is a good thing since it legitimizes leaders. There have been many armed groups that recently came together and made pacts, some under the former president Bozize leadership, where they invaded the country from the outside. Their aim was to disrupt elections, but we also learned that some of those rebels wanted to attack our forces. All because we have been uncompromised and forceful in ensuring that citizens were well-protected,” he said.

On Saturday 19th December 2020, President Faustin-Archange Touadéra accused former president of the country, François Bozize of planning a coup-plot to dethrone the Government in collaboration with armed rebels. However, the ex-president of the Central African Republic has denied the allegation.

Tensions rose after Mr Bozizé’s candidacy for this week’s national elections was rejected by the country’s highest court. The UN said on Friday it had deployed peacekeeping forces to the country. President Faustin Archange Touadéra has insisted the poll will go ahead, saying the presence of the army and UN peacekeepers means people have nothing to fear.

But opposition parties, including that of Mr Bozizé, have called for the vote to be postponed "until the re-establishment of peace and security".

President Kagame said, there had been no confrontations to Rwanda’s forces in CAR peacekeeping mission amidst their mandate to protect civilians.

As he explained, the rules of engagement for recently sent forces are forcibly different from other forces’ rules due to being sent under a different mandate.

“In this particular case, we’ve had an agreement with the CAR government, in which the rules of engagement are different. Our additional forces will be able to protect citizens and our existing force already there, without being limited by other rules of engagement [UN]," said Kagame.

The President also underscored that there are police troops protecting civilians camps in CAR that are attacked sometimes. He said that forces sent under different mandate will reinforce security to ensure smooth elections and protect Rwanda’s forces against any attacks.

Rwanda has been a main contributor to United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) since it first deployed in 2014. MINUSCA’s Rwandan contingent is notably in charge of the security of Central African Republic President Faustin-Archange Touadera and the presidential palace.

A total of 300 Rwandan peacekeepers have been deployed to Central African Republic (CAR) to reinforce security during elections scheduled on Sunday 27th December 2020.