UN mulls easing C.A.R. arms embargo

The United Nations Security Council is looking into the possibility of easing an arms embargo on the Central African Republic, five years after the country almost experienced genocide.

The government in Bangui has repeatedly called for the arms embargo to be lifted in order to avail arms supplies to its security forces fighting armed groups that control much of the country.

The Security Council will on Thursday vote on a French-drafted resolution that calls for a review of the arms embargo by September if the government meets benchmarks in managing weapons, disarming armed groups and reforming its security sector.

The draft resolution would renew the embargo until January 2020, but open the door to a partial lifting that would allow the government to buy weapons without seeking approval from the UN sanctions committee.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will submit a report by the end of July on whether the government has met the benchmarks after Bangui presents its own findings by June 30.

Diplomats said on Wednesday they expect the measure to be adopted.

“We think it’s a good idea to have a review of the embargo,” AFP quotes Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia.

The UN imposed the arms embargo on the C.A.R. in 2013 when it descended into chaos after President Francois Bozize, a Christian, was overthrown by mainly Muslim Seleka rebels.

Following appeals from the government in Bangui, the UN sanctions committee has granted exemptions to allow shipments of weapons from France, Russia, China, the United States and Belgium to the poorly-equipped army.