The Central African Republic has asked the UN Security Council to approve deliveries of Chinese-made armoured vehicles, machine guns, tear gas grenades and other weaponry for its struggling army and police, according to the request obtained by AFP today.
Defence Minister Marie Noelle Koyara requested an exemption to an arms embargo, arguing that national forces are "confronted with the strength and escalating violence of armed groups whose illegal activities pose a threat to civil order."
The council imposed an arms embargo on the Central African Republic in 2013 when the country descended into bloodshed but its sanctions committee last year gave the green light for Russia to supply weapons to the national forces.
Council members have until Thursday 3:00 pm (1900 GMT) to raise objections to the request for the Chinese shipments, according to a letter from the sanction committee's vice-chair.
China is donating the military equipment which includes 12 armoured vehicles and four assault vehicles, 50 pistols, six sniper rifles, ten submachine guns with silencers and some 30 machine guns of various calibres.
In her request, the defence minister argued that tear gas would help gendarmerie and police deal with crowd control as the "units do not currently possess any of this equipment designed to maintain order."
The request for the Chinese weaponry is backed by a European Union military training mission and by the UN peacekeeping operation MINUSCA, which has come under repeated attacks from armed groups. Five peacekeepers have been killed this year.
The Central African Republic exploded into violence following the 2013 overthrow of longtime leader Francois Bozize, prompting France to intervene with its Operation Sangaris. MINUSCA took over an African Union-led mission in 2014, deploying some 12,000 troops and police, but the country remains overrun with militias, many of whom claim to protect Christian or Muslim communities.
CAR's leaders have repeatedly asked the Security Council to ease the arms embargo to allow shipments of equipment that will beef up the national forces.
France and the UN mine-action service have helped CAR's defense ministry set up armories and ammunition depots for the deliveries, which the request stated should take place in June.
"Building up the defence and security forces, alongside MINUSCA, and progressive deployment of those forces safeguards the security of people and ensures the progressive enforcement of state authority," wrote the defence minister.
Most of the armoured vehicles and other weaponry will be used by special forces trained by Rwanda and certified by the EU training mission. Units of CAR's gendarmerie and police were trained by the United Nations police.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)